Tuesday, October 19, 2010

An Open Letter to the City-County Council's Municipal Corporation Committee

Editor's note: It is my understanding that this committee won't be taking public comment at tonight's meeting. If you would like to add your thoughts and want them heard, or more precisely, read, then post yours in the comments section. I'll be printing them out and I'll attempt to get them in the packets the council representatives get when they go to committee meetings.

According to blog comments, Central Indiana Jobs with Justice and Unite Here will be rallying at the City Market at 5pm. The meeting takes place at 5:30pm in 260 of the City-County Building.

Other posts on the same subject:
Advance Indiana: Councilors Wave Magic Wand And Find $2.5 Million For Libraries And IndyGo
Pat Andrews at Had Enough Indy? Weighs In.

Chairwoman Malone, my council representative Maggie Lewis, and to all others sitting on the Municipal Corporation Committee,

My name is Matthew Stone. I've been periodically attending City-County council meetings since about this time last year. Tonight, you'll be taking up an item that relates to the main agenda item of the first committee meeting I attended: the Capital Improvement Board and it's budget.

Early in 2009, the CIB cried poverty. The numbers seem to fluctuate between $30-something and $47 million that was needed to cover a huge hole in their budget, and it was never quite certain exactly what was included in those numbers. Their story seemed to change often, specifically in regards to if this projected deficit included $15-18 million (another fluctuating figure) in operating costs for Conseco Fieldhouse, which by contract is supposed to be covered by the primary tenants of the Fieldhouse, the Indiana Pacers.

So they rushed off to the General Assembly and several plans were proposed and went nowhere. In the budget drama that was ongoing in the General Assembly, the CIB got permission to ask the council to raise a few taxes and take three $9 million dollar loans over three years from the state, because I guess the state has enough money to spare. In the subsequent board meeting where the CIB accepted the first loan, it was admitted that the loan wasn't needed to cover their budget at that time but they were going to take it anyway. Of course, no plan was proposed on how to pay back the loan in a few years since it is, after all, a loan and not a gift.

Since then, the CIB has slashed several jobs and claims they've really toned down their expenses. When I've attended CIB meetings, they often have the lights in the hallways dimmed or turned off. Man, it really looks like they're trying to pinch every single penny!

So what's the first thing they do when the CIB is finally on it's way to not losing a ton of money?

They fork over $30 million (in operation costs and capital improvements) to the Indiana Pacers over a period of three years, including a shiny new scoreboard. And in typical boneheaded CIB fashion, they let the Pacers keep all non-game revenue made from concerts and other events hosted at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Since this whole drama started in early 2009, you often see the headlines juxtaposed in an interesting fashion. In one article, you might read about the CIB asking for taxes to be raised or detailing the new contract between the Pacers and the CIB or the Pacers getting a new, shiny scoreboard. And in another article, you'll read about our city-county libraries reducing hours for employees and branches, or the worst bus system in the entire country struggling to keep what little they have going.

And yes, I understand that taxes are used in different ways and often in Indiana, city-county legislative bodies can't easily re-direct revenue to feed into different services. But they CAN go to the general assembly and ask for more flexibility in how they direct these funds.

In the worst economy since the Great Depression, I recognize that all government services and programs will probably take a hit. I'm just asking that all programs are treated fairly. Because right now, it seems like our public transit and libraries are taking most of the burden, while the sports stadiums get every request they demand.

It is for this reason that I urge you to vote down the Capital Improvement Board's budget. The Indiana Pacers had a contract that they knowingly signed that requires them to pay operational expenses and in return they get 100% of all revenue from games and non-game events. If they're losing money (and I say "if" because they've never provided any proof that they're losing money) and can't afford the expenses, then too bad. The public has had to make sacrifices these past few years, and they should as well.

-Matthew Stone

Firehawk Technologies


Blog: http://indystudent.blogspot.com


  1. Check out "had enough" blog on this subject.

    Let's hold each person responsible for their vote. Document public statements, record each vote, etc.


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