In his second state of the city address, Mayor Greg Ballard warned that Indianapolis faces a budget deficit and an infrastructure crisis.
“Indianapolis is on the cusp of a potential fiscal and infrastructure crisis unlike any in our lifetime,” said Ballard, a Republican and political neophyte who won the mayor’s office in 2007 in a surprise defeat of incumbent Democrat Bart Peterson. “The state of our roads and bridges is nowhere near acceptable, our city’s infrastructure is crumbling, and we are paying millions of dollars in interest on short-sighted deals that adversely affect our budget.”
Ballard announced the formation of two new panels, an infrastructure advisory commission and a committee that will focus on mass transit. He said the city has asked for $160 million in federal stimulus money related to infrastructure needs.
Aggravating the problem are declines in property tax revenue stemming from the state’s new law imposing caps on property tax bills. A supporter of the new law, Ballard still warned that “the impact on government of these hard caps will be substantial.”
Ballard singled out for praise the Indianapolis Local Public Improvement Bond Bank and its new director, Kevin Taylor.
“By improving the Bond Bank’s operational and accounting practices, we are realizing $1.2 million in annual savings for taxpayers,” he said. “Our diligence also resulted in an upgrade in our bond rating, which translates into more savings though lower interest costs.”
The mayor also repeatedly praised the city’s charter school system. The state is currently considering a law to allow Indianpolis’ mayoral-sponsored charter schools to issue bonds through the local bond bank.