[City Controller David] Reynolds said he was surprised to find out that last year's county income tax increase -- to 1.65 percent from 1 percent -- did not set aside money for police and fire pensions. The General Assembly earlier this year agreed to assume those pension costs. But Peterson had promoted the tax increase to the public partly as a way to pay for the pensions. Instead, Reynolds said, the extra money went to public safety operations.
he was surprised, huh? that's funny, because i've known since november!
Bond Buyer reports that "Indianapolis' planned $460 million pension obligation bond issue, a key piece of Mayor Bart Peterson's plan to shore up the city's finances, is up in the air following his surprise defeat last week at the hands of Greg Ballard, who campaigned on promises to hold down debt and eliminate property taxes. With Peterson out at the end of the year, the pension obligation bond is one of several projects and financial plans that have come under renewed scrutiny. As a result, officials have yet to decide whether they will move forward with the deal under the current administration or wait until Ballard takes office, said Barbara A. Lawrence, executive director of the Indianapolis Bond Bank. "It was our intent to move forward with the bond issue, and obviously that is still an option, but we are weighing our options given what happened in the election last week," Lawrence said. The bank — which would serve as the issuer for the pension deal — plans to decide by next week. While Lawrence left the door open to moving forward, it still requires city/county counci approval. If the deal is put off until Ballard takes office, it's uncertain whether the city would proceed as Ballard has said in published reports that he wants the state to assume the liability.
here's a little history lesson for mr. city controller. see, the deal was all set up and ready to go. then mayor peterson lost the election. ballard had made it clear that he didn't want the COIT increase money to go to the pensions. so, rather than bind his hands into a deal he didn't want, peterson officials decided to wait until ballard was in office and let him make the call. ballard, obviously, decided not to go through with the deal, and spent the money on public safety . later, during his embarrassingly ill-prepared state house testimony, carolene mays criticized ballard for not using the COIT money to pay for pensions and instead asking the state for a handout. (in the end, he lucked out and got the handout anyway.)
how is it that i, a lowly blogger, know all this stuff, but our city controller claims to be surprised? it seems like the kind of thing he should be aware of, and it wasn't exactly a secret.
higher up in the star story, we see that the city needs to borrow $154 million to cover expenses for 2008. apparently, the property tax reassessment ordered by governor daniels has led to a major revenue shortfall, forcing the city to borrow more than usual. thanks, mitch! then again, i'm sure everything will be fine once the mayor cuts all that "fluff" out of the budget, right?
Ballard on Monday declined to reveal any more details about how his budget will make up for lost property tax revenues or fulfill his campaign promise to cut $70 million in "fluff" in three years, aside from spending cuts of nearly $8 million so far this year.
oh... well, with quality help like city controller reynolds, i'm sure the mayor will find that pony fluff any day now. ¶