$43M deficit forces CIB to make cuts

A lot of the debt comes from the high cost of operating the brand new Lucas Oil Stadium.
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Mary Milz/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - The Capital Improvements Board is running $43 million in the red. A lot of that comes from the high cost of operating the brand new Lucas Oil Stadium.

The gameplan for cutting costs at Lucas Oil stadium and other CIB venues includes leaving open positions vacant, keeping close tabs on supplies - even pens and pencils - and becoming more energy efficient

As for utility bills, CIB Executive Director Barney Levengood said, "We can turn it down and put on a sweater."

Levengood outlined nearly $6 million in budget cuts, which include cutting back on training and advertising and putting off capital improvements such as new carpet for the convention center.

They also had plans to renovate the old Easterday Building used for storage and assembling workers. But that too is now on hold.

"We'll make do with all we have, stretch the dollar and defer some costs until 2010," said Levengood.

The board still needs to find $37 million more to plug the deficit and CIB President Bob Grand stressed everything is on the table except property taxes.

"Let me be clear, property taxes are not part of the solution," said Grand.

Raising hospitality taxes, adopting new user fees, opening a downtown casino and asking for help from the Colts and Pacers and raising hospitality taxes again are all possibilities. So is cutting CIB funding for the Arts Council, Sports Corp. and Black Expo.

"In the next round of cuts, some of those programs will be effected," said Grand.

Board member Craig Huse, who also owns St. Elmo's, worries about another increase in hospitality taxes.

"We're at the top level of (taxes) where we might receive some pushback on the other side, things going dark and not being viable isn't an option either," he said.