I am not a big sports person, but I can appreciate half-time reports because they give me a pretty good synopsis of what I’ve missed and they also let me know what to pay attention to for the rest of the game. So if you don’t mind me taking a page out of the NFL playbook, I’d like to give you a half-time report of what’s been going on with your city-county government.
What They’ve Done
- Smoking Ban – Although I am not a big fan of smoking bans from a philosophical perspective, the Mayor and Council got this passed.
What They’re Doing
- TIF District – The Council is looking at restructuring the way the city does TIF districts. For you non-government geeks a TIF district is a tax-increment financing district. The districts use money from the increased assessed value in property within the district to pay for economic development projects. Debate continues about how long TIFs should be allowed to exist and how they should be created. The Council has put together a recommendation, but the Mayor’s office is not crazy about it. The other problem here is that Mayoral wannabe Brian Mahern is holding up the Mass Ave and Avondale Meadows projects, which is more than $700 million in development.
- Same-sex domestic partner benefits – The Council is putting together a proposal that would give city benefits to same-sex and unmarried couples. The problem is verification and safeguarding against two people who are roommates trying to scam the city versus two people who are true domestic partners. The other catch is a number of councilors are skeptical about giving benefits to unmarried opposite sex couples because they have the option of getting married.
What They Didn’t Do
- Redistricting — The Democrat’s efforts to redo the Mayor’s redistricting proposal fell flat. They failed to override a mayoral veto of the new maps. There is talk of legal challenge; there are two problems with that. The first is finding a law firm to do it and the money to finance the litigation. The other problem is that the Council Democrats privately admit the maps are legal and a challenge would fail in court.
What They Still Have to Do
- The budget — Indianapolis is looking at closing a $47 million budget shortfall. Note: That number was north of $70 million before the recent discovery of the state’s accounting error that shortchanged local governments. That revenue correction dropped the budget squeeze by a few million bucks. The big problem weighing on expenditures involves public safety. The sheriff has been complaining about having to eat the costs of inmate health care and wants to be able to bill that amount back to the arresting agencies. He also suggests that his lower-paid staff could handle traffic patrol more cost effectively than higher-paid IMPD officers. The city is cool to that idea.
- So far the Mayor has issued six vetoes of Council proposals. Under the last Council he only issued one.