If you are a developer or a professional sports franchise owner, grab a large container and head for City Hall. There is about to be another deluge of public dollars for you. If you are an individual taxpayer, grab your wallet because the deluge is going to come out of that container!
Three separate items in this morning’s paper tell us the story. We won’t go into great detail.
The top headline in the second section of the paper says "MASS AVE. DEAL NEAR." This one involves moving Red Cross headquarters and various fire department properties. There is reference to city acquisition of the Red Cross site with no financial information disclosed.
The next to last paragraph of the article reads as follows: "The city is aiding the project by essentially giving the land to the developers and moving the IFD buildings. A new fire station is expected to cost the city $10 million to $11 million. (Our emphasis.)
The second item refers to a proposed development in Broad Ripple. It will have retail space, 88 apartments and 400 parking spaces. (Presumably there will be an express bus stop nearby so that people can park their cars and ride the wildly popular proposed mass transit.)
Again, we quote the next to last paragraph. "They plan to ask the city for money from a local tax-increment financing district to help pay for improvements at the site." (Our emphasis.) We’re not sure what the use of the word "local" means here. The newly established TIF district gives the appearance of weird gerrymandering, extending from near downtown to Broad Ripple with much of its width seeming to be a maximum of 5-6 blocks.
The third item is a column, warning us that the local basketball franchise will be in the taxpayers’ pockets for years to come. The author claims that the team had "leverage" when they were losing and that the "leverage" is even greater now that they are winning.
We admire the imaginative use of the word "leverage." It’s like saying we have "leverage" on the author because we have a picture of him coming out of a bank with a heavy briefcase - at two o’clock in the morning! A more accurate definition would call it extortion.
There is also a list of seven items which the city would "lose" if the team were to leave town. We thought the sixth was the most interesting. "It would lose the main tenant in a building that is still 15 years from being paid off."
When the tenant is not paying one thin dime toward the debt, we think it is at least in bad taste even to mention that part of the equation. We find it difficult to mourn the loss of a tenant which takes all revenues from the building and, for all practical purposes, is actually being paid for using the building.
We guess it is unnecessary to point out that none of the three items makes any reference to, or asks questions about, this continuing policy of corporate welfare in the face of severe municipal budgetary problems.
It’s Friday o’clock in Wonderland, and all’s well!