Business Leadership Silent on TIF
by Fred McCarthy
We found it interesting that the local Chamber of Commerce, which in theory represents the business community, has volunteered to help a governmental agency more easily increase the tax burden on the business community.
It comes as no surprise for in recent years we do not recall the Chamber ever questioning tax increases, or, at least as importantly, asking for a review of current factors which might negate the need for increasing government revenues. Rather, the Chamber is eminently qualified to teach any “needy” agency how to apply the necessary hype to sell something to the unwary and poorly informed citizenry.
One such factor review which would be useful is a determination of exactly how much money has been diverted away from schools — and other legitimate government functions — by the use of TIF (Tax Increment Finance) operations. And to look into the future of this problem as we move rather rapidly toward making the entire city one huge, consolidated TIF district.
The schools say they need money. The mayor recently described the city’s financial situation as “deplorable.” And this situation exists after decades of “economic development projects” — all of which received the blessing of the Chamber as leading to a world class city economically blessed like no other. Including individual projects receiving municipal welfare in amounts of hundreds of millions of dollars.
What we are winding up with, along with ridiculously costly sports palaces, is a downtown full of taxpayer-subsidized parking facilities, all of which will stand empty when the taxpayer-subsidized Red Line, and Blue, Green, and Purple Lines, eliminate the need for the automobile in the city. At least that’s the selling point of the grandiose “transportation” plan moving forward.
Again, is there any chance that the combined forces of education and business might generate a review of current distributions of public funds? Is it really impossible to change the questionable financial thinking which has put education and municipal government in financial shadows?
When will some voice of authority demand an honest investigation of past and current public expenditures, and initiation of a feasible method of determining needed changes?
Fred McCarthy, an adjunct scholar of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation and editor of the blog indytaxdollars, represented various taxpayer and business organizations before the Indiana General Assembly for 40 years, being awarded a Sagamore of the Wabash by two governors along the way.