Lets Develop a Sustainable, Responsible Plan for Neighborhood Improvements

January 31, 2014

Letter to the Editor  (as submitted to the Indy Star)

This week, in a move supported by Mayor Greg Ballard, the Indiana Senate Tax & Fiscal Policy Committee added language to the “Indy Connect” transit bill that may surprise you. The amendment authorizes the State of Indiana to issue bonds that cost nearly $200 million on behalf of Indianapolis – without the oversight and approval of the Indianapolis City/County Council, the elected fiscal body of our city.

 Our City – not the State – would be required, to repay the new debt. In effect, this new loan would be a “pre-paid” credit card for the Mayor to spend however he chooses, without consensus or even input from the Council or anyone else.

 Mayor Ballard has says he will use this loan to further his plan for “Rebuild Indy 2.0,” which would be spent on infrastructure. However, unlike the first “Rebuild Indy” spending, funded by the sale of the water utility, there is nothing being sold to pay for version 2.0; this is solely a 25-year near $200 million loan spent over the next three years. We agree that our City needs to better invest in our infrastructure. We must do it in a way we can afford and that provides a generational return on our investment.

It was just last month that the credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded our City’s credit rating. Why was it downgraded? It was driven largely by the city’s amount of existing debt and concerns about the Mayor’s financial management practices. Instead of taking action to address these issues, Mayor Ballard requested a new credit card from the General Assembly.

We have already seen the results when the Mayor chooses to act unilaterally; Mayor Ballard spent $6 million of Rebuild Indy funds on his Cricket stadium last year. We have to listen to the people of the city before we allow the Mayor to spend nearly $200 million that our children will have to repay. That is why we have a City/County Council – to represent the people of Indianapolis so that public money – especially new public debt – is spent responsibly and according to the people’s priorities. Indianapolis faces a tight budget as we continue to recover from a sluggish economy, high violent crime and a weakened tax base. Mayor Ballard needs to make his case for running up a near $200 million bill publicly to the City/County Council and the people of this city. 

It’s time to put away the credit card and stop impulse purchases.  It’s time to develop a thoughtful and sustainable plan for neighborhood improvements, funded responsibly, that benefits our entire city. As always, we stand ready for honest, bipartisan, compromise-oriented discussions.

 Maggie A. Lewis, City/County Council President

 John Barth, City/County Council Vice President

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Lewis and Barth Re-Elected as Council President and Vice President

January 28, 2014

Lewis and Barth Re-Elected as Council President and Vice President

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 27, 2014

Lewis Elected to serve Third Year as Council President; Barth Set for Second year as Council Vice President

INDIANAPOLIS – This evening, the Indianapolis City/County Council elected leadership for 2014. District 7 Councillor Maggie A. Lewis was re-elected as Council President for her third year and At-Large Councillor John Barth was re-elected as Council Vice President for his second year.

“I am humbled that my colleagues chose to re-elect me as Council President,” said President Maggie A. Lewis, “I’m looking forward to 2014 and keeping the Council focused on our priorities of public safety, neighborhood improvement, and jobs.”

“I appreciate the opportunity to serve a second year as Council Vice President,” said Councillor John Barth, “I will continue to work with President Lewis and all Councillors to achieve results for the people of Indianapolis.”

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Study Commission Focusing on IMPD Staffing and Funding, Announces Members and Meeting Dates

January 14, 2014

For Immediate Release

Study Commission Focusing on IMPD Staffing and Funding, Announces Members and Meeting Dates
Commission aimed at determining the necessary number of IMPD Officers

Indianapolis – As one of its final acts in 2013, the Indianapolis City/County Council passed a proposal, sponsored by Council Vice President John Barth, to create a bipartisan study commission to determine the appropriate and necessary number of IMPD officers and to review and analyze long-term funding options.

“It is long past time Indianapolis had a transparent, long-term plan for IMPD staffing,” said Councillor Barth. “It is my goal that the Commission will set forth a plan for staffing and funding that will remove the politics from policing, so we can keep the focus where it belongs – on protecting our citizens.”

For the full release with Commission members and meeting dates, click here: PRESS_RELEASE01-14-14