Saturday, October 31, 2009

Abdul Endorses YES Vote on Wishard

Local conservative talker Abdul-Hakim Shabazz has endorsed a "yes" vote on the Wishard referendum.

Abdul writes on his Indiana Barrister blog:

"Why Wishard Works For Me
For most of the Wishard referendum debate, I’ve basically been neutral. I understand the need for building a new facility, but I also understand the taxpayers have been burned on projects like the Library and Lucas Oil Stadium. I’ve heard arguments on both sides and critically watched presentations by both proponents and opponents. However, it was a letter that came in the mail to my wife the other day that took me off the fence. It was her property tax bill.

She was glad that due to tax caps her bill had virtually been cut in half since 2007. I decided to do a little closer inspection and look at each unit of government and how much they were taking, specifically Health and Hospital. The Health and Hospital portion of her bill has dropped 112% since 2007 and only made up 7% of her current tax bill. When I saw that, I decided the Wishard referendum works for me.

Many opponents of the referendum say they are concerned the bonds Wishard wants to float will be backed by property taxes and if’ Wishard’s revenue stream, which is funded in part by its nursing home revenue, is disrupted it will result in a tax increase. I think the criticism is legitimate, but not fatal.

Let’s assume the worse and there’s a 10% increase in the Health and Hospital portion of my wife’s tax bill to pay for the construction. By my count, she’s forking over an extra $4 a year. She spends $4 a day on Starbucks. A good glass of scotch will cost me $8. I think we can afford it. And to put it in even more perspective that $4 increase comes in the heels of more than $600 in property tax deductions she now enjoys due to the caps.

However, I doubt things would even get that far. In order for there to be a tax increase, Health and Hospital would have to go to the City-County Council and get permission since it is a municipal corporation. And I don’t see anyone on the Council approving a property tax increase for the Hospital. If anything, I see more scrutiny in Wishard’s future as Councilors will be watching closely and monitoring cost overruns. And the public should be there as well, watching and paying attention and holding officials accountable.

Like I said, I started out in neutral and after looking at how under the worse case scenario a 10% increase in Health and Hospital translates into a less than a penny a day from our combined income, Wishard is something we can live with. Now there are some people that taking a penny is too much and they are free to vote their beliefs. But for us, it’s no big deal."

The only complaint from me is that he picked a Saturday to post it. I can imagine his show Monday morning on WXNT, 1430 AM, will be interesting as he gets some blowback from his Republican and Libertarian friends.


Anonymous said...

Press Release

INDIANAPOLS (Oct. 29, 2009)—State Rep. Phil Hinkle and State Sen. Scott Schneider today offered a “second opinion” on the Wishard Hospital referendum voters are currently deciding.

The two Indianapolis Republican lawmakers are cautioning local taxpayers about the difficulty of Wishard officials to predict revenue 30 years out, the seeming inability for government to complete construction projects on budget and on time, and that the passage of the referendum will mean little to no protections for property taxpayers.

“We have come forward to caution taxpayers and voice our concerns about Wishard’s hospital initiative,” said Hinkle. “Taxpayers are taking a risk if they choose to approve this project.”

Hinkle and Schneider teamed-up to warn voters of what they called three “fatal flaws” in Wishard’s initiative:

1. Difficulty of Wishard officials to predict revenue streams over the next three decades, especially given the far-reaching health care reforms now being debated in Washington, D.C.

2. Inability of government to complete construction projects on budget and on time, pointing to delays and cost over-runs at projects like the Marion County-Indianapolis Central Library; and

3. Elimination of property tax protections for homeowners, business owners and remaining farmers, because once passed by referendum, any funding ever needed from property taxes would be outside the state’s property tax caps.

“We doubt anyone knows for certain how the national health care debate will end or what delivery systems will be used or look like in the near or distant future,” Hinkle said. “The referendum comes at a very awkward time to make such an important community decision. Many are disappointed the public wasn’t included earlier and that the vote was not taken during an election when more voices would be heard and more ballots would be cast. It seems like inside baseball to us.”

Hinkle and Schneider pointed to recent Marion County projects that have struggled to finish on time and within budgeted estimates. The Indianapolis-Marion County Central Library expansion project opened more than two years late and an estimated $50 million over budget. The construction of Lucas Oil Stadium overran budgeted expectations by an estimated $95 million and costs $20 million more annually to operate than expected.

“We bring up these past projects to remind taxpayers about what can happen despite the best intentions,” said Schneider. “As soon as there is a snag in any part of Wishard’s finances, taxpayers are on the hook. Should the need ever arise, Indiana’s property tax caps will not apply to the cost or debt service of the proposed hospital. That’s something taxpayers need to be aware of when they vote now through Tuesday.”

“While we support Wishard as an institution and appreciate their efforts for our community, the fact still remains they are asking taxpayers to co-sign a $600 million loan. Taxpayers need to be aware of this when they go to the ballot box,” Schneider said.

The Referendum is scheduled for next Tuesday, Nov 3, however early voting is already occurring.

Source: Senate Majority Caucus

Jon E. Easter said...

A couple of questions for Hinkle and Schneider:

1.) If the Wishard referendum is such a bad thing, then why weren't there more than a handful of Senators and Representatives joining the cause? Why haven't more public officials come out against the passage of the referendum?

2.) Why didn't Hinkle and Schneider urge voters to vote against the referendum instead of just reporting things that Wishard itself has acknowledged? No tax increases are expected, but I have been to three different meetings where they have clearly stated that the possibility is there for an increase in taxes in a worst case scenario. Why didn't Schneider and Hinkle just tell people..."VOTE NO."

Anonymous said...

What if the tax increase is 100%? What happens when the assessor jacks up her assessment, even in the down market?

Anonymous said...

People tried to point out that the tax cap was not the answer to property tax relief and this is just another reason why. Place a cap and then raise the assessements .......BUT THE GOP WOULD NOT LISTEN.