where is the $70 million in "fluff" that ballard promised would be so easy to find? apparently, to mayor ballard, arts and parks—the kinds of stuff that make indy a pleasant place to live—are no more than fluff to be excised. ballard went to the statehouse and begged them to institute the governor's property tax plan, knowing in advance that it would force local governments throughout the state to make massive budget cuts... and these are the kinds of cuts he had in mind?
the city's cultural leaders—who have suspected cuts would be coming since ballard's election—are dismayed:
"We obviously all recognize there are going to be cuts he needs to make," said Glen Kwok, executive director of the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis. "But what was outlined to us was not reasonable. To have a three-year phase-out program to zero was completely unfathomable."
"There are few line items in the budget with such a good rate of return," said Kwok of the International Violin Competition. "And if public safety is truly at the top of the mayor's agenda, which I know it is, one must consider the long-term impact on today’s youth."
Since he took office, Ballard has noted cultural leaders' concerns, and pledged to assist them wherever possible, particularly from the bully pulpit.
But many arts leaders have remained skeptical.
"Part of the problem is, Mayor Peterson worked so hard from the beginning to establish a profile in the cultural community," said John Pickett, executive director of the Indianapolis Opera. "When he went in to help major arts organizations, his statements had much more weight than Mayor Ballard's would."
Other cities Indianapolis competes against directly—both for businesses and talent—do far more than even Peterson did to support the arts, Pickett pointed out.
Denver, for example, has a dedicated sales tax as well as a seat tax at major sporting events, which together generate $13 million for its cultural arts community annually.
mayor peterson had his flaws, but at least he had a vision for this city that i broadly agreed with. i'm not sure what kind of spartan vision the mayor has for us—other than building a chinatown on the south side, of course—but it doesn't seem like the kind of place i'd want to live. or as IUPUI's brian vargus put it:
"Oliver Wendell Holmes said taxes are the price we pay for civilization. Ballard's [idea of] civilization is some kind of Marine Corps."¶