Council Democrats target CIB for $15M

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Even though the mayor says there's no money to hire and train new police and fire recruits next year, City-County Council Democrats say they've found a way to fund the recruit classes for up to 50 officers and 30 firefighters.

When they vote on the mayor's budget Monday, they're expected to vote in favor of charging the Capital Improvement Board a $15 million "payment in lieu of taxes" or PILOT.

The CIB is a municipal corporation charged with running the city's sports venues and convention center. It relies regularly on police and fire protection for sports and other events at its venues.

City-County Council Vice President Brian Mahern (D) said, "In the past, the CIB has come to the city for assistance and we've provided that. The shoe is on the other foot now. The city needs help providing essential services and we're going to the CIB. It's only fair they contribute something and pitch in."

The mayor strongly opposes the move. His chief of staff Ryan Vaughn said, "There's no money there and it's misleading to the public to suggest there is."

The city has turned to the CIB for help before, back in 2000 when Democrat Bart Peterson was mayor.

Vaughn said that was different as it was a mutual agreement between the city and CIB.

This time he accused the Democratic-controlled council of "being a fiscal bully and trying to steal money from an agency which has been criticized in the past for being fiscally irresponsible and is now being criticized for being fiscally responsible."

Others have joined the mayor in opposing the pilot. Indy Chamber President and CEO Scott Miller issued this statement:

"The City-County Council's Municipal Corporations Committee's decision to raid the CIB budget by addressing a long term problem with a short term solution is irresponsible and creates a fiscal cliff that would be a detriment to long term stability, economic attractiveness and job growth in our city. We urge the Council to reject this measure and instead seek a consistent, long-term solution to this budget shortfall."

Mahern said he was undeterred. "We have to run the city and provide essential services. We're losing officers. Given where we're at this point it's our best suggestion."

Even the mayor opposes the PILOT, he has no power to veto it. The CIB is still considering whether to take legal action.