Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Give Democrats Their Due

Posted By on Wed, Sep 5, 2012 at 4:00 AM

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Okay, brace yourself for this one. I am about to saying something positive about several Democratic members of the Indianapolis City-County Council.No, I am not ill, nor am I still suffering from a major hangover from this weekend. I am simply giving several individuals credit where credit is due.

If you're wondering what I'm talking about, I'm talking about last Monday's 5-1 vote by the Council's Metropolitan and Economic Development Committee to move forward with two stalled Tax Increment Finance projects.Just to get you up to speed, a TIF District funds redevelopment by capturing increases in property tax dollars (accomplished, in part, by the increased assessment values the development investments ostensibly bring) to pay for redevelopment. The city has argued the TIFs are needed to create jobs and bring economic development to the city. Opponents say TIFs take badly needed property tax revenue from schools and local governments.This proposal expands the downtown TIF district to include the Mass Ave area as well as 16 Tech.

City-County Council Vice-President Brian Mahern, on a quest to become mayor someday (much to the dismay of members of his own party and anyone else capable of rational thought), held up the TIF expansion for the longest time. Mahern wanted the council to move forward with a number of TIF recommendations, which he says will promote a better use of TIFs. (Some of us argue it will only promote him.) The council deadlocked over the issue, leading to consequences such as the delay of construction projects and the hint that it may be getting tough to do business in Indianapolis.

The current proposal had been sitting on the agenda since February.The committee voted to amend it so that proceeds from the TIF could be used for small business loans, worker retraining and citywide redevelopment.

I have to give credit to Vop Osili, Zach Adamson, Mary Moriarty Adams and even Joe Simpson, who was not on the committee, but expressed his support for it and worked to reach a compromise, even though he said in the past he would never vote for a TIF District. By using funds from the TIF for small business loans as well as workforce training and redevelopment it shows not only creative thinking, but also getting even more bang for the buck.

As I have written before, Indianapolis needs more taxpayers, not taxes, per se, as the answer to its long-term financial needs. Going down this road to help small businesses and get people back on their feet and in workforce is the smart thing to do. They deserve a major "thumbs up" for this one. Hopefully, they can keep this momentum moving when the council votes on the full proposal Sept. 17.

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