McCarthy: The Enduring ‘Gift’ of TIF
by Fred McCarthy
They say insanity is doing the same thing time after time and expecting different results. And citizen ignorance plus lethargy adds to the insanity by accepting rosy financial fantasies and outright lies.
A recent front-page story in the Indianapolis Star, with artwork, is headed “A project expands.” It concerns, of course, another big real estate development on the near south side of — where else? — in downtown Indianapolis.
The first phase of this particular project soaked up $86,000,000 in TIF tax money. We’re apparently expected to be delighted, however, that the new effort will only receive $15,000,000.
The only thing worse than the cost is the process. The fifth paragraph tells us this much: “The project will include $15 million in tax-increment financing which the Metropolitan Development Commission approved Oct. 21.” This a body of individuals that is neither elected by the public nor accountable to any legislature for this action. Their action is the action of whichever mayor who appoints them.
The spokesman for the developer adds this: “TIF has proven to be an effective tool at increasing the value of developing Downtown and reducing the need for (public money) in future projects.”
Most of the downtown area is now part of a consolidated TIF district. The resulting “increased value” has left the city in an ever deepening financial pit. Any new tax revenue resulting from those efforts will go into the mayor’s slush fund for further largess to other developers — maybe for the new soccer stadium for which the new drumbeat started this fall on the front page of the Indianapolis Business Journal.
Not surprisingly, the new Indianapolis mayor spoke highly of the use of TIF revenues during his election campaign. Also, as so many of his predecessors, he promised 150 more police officers. To our knowledge, thankfully, he never mentioned the two in the same breath. Nor did he ever find any fault with the multi-million dollar subsidies of professional sports.
Get a firm hold on your wallet, friends.