Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mayor Ballard Will Have to Be Wizard To Balance Future Budget

A stop by Marion County Assessor Greg Bowes' website shows the scary reality for this city's future services. Residential property assessments are down countywide. That means that there is going to be less money for city and county services in the future than there is now. With the new one percent caps that will likely be eventually placed in the state's Constitution, the mechanism to raise property taxes above that level will now be gone. Finally, the state revenue forecast continues to be short of where it is supposed to be. What does all that mean?

Mayor Greg Ballard will have to get out his Harry Potter magic wand and conjure up a spell to balance future city and county budgets. You can already see that the Mayor is hiking business fees and is raising other potential revenue generating sources. He's finding out that governing a city this big is not easy especially when he was elected on a platform of not asking for more money.

This revenue issue is not his fault. It's just reality of where we stand, but it really underlines the fact that saying stuff that sounds popular to win elections sometimes comes back to bite you in the rump. Sometimes things that sound good to get you elected don't quite pan out. They also tend to turn into campaign ads for your opposition.

I, for one, hope to the heavens that Mayor Ballard is up to the task to deal with this perfect storm of revenue flow problems, but I fear that he is not. Looks like it's time for a change in 2011. Had enough?


Paul K. Ogden said...

There's another problem - unfunded liability on self-funded insurnace that is going to hit right before the election. That will be a budgetary crisis in and of itself. It's an issue I dealt with on my blog several months ago. Basically it has to do with payments on insurance claims running about three months behind. When they went to self-insurance, much of the unfunded liablity gets pushed to the next budget year. So you self-insure more people and do the same thing the next year. You can only pass the buck to the next year so long.

Had Enough Indy? said...

Not to minimize what you are saying, but.... only $324 million of the 2010 $1.23 billion budget revenue is from property taxes. Also, not everyone will hit the tax caps, so the tax rate can rise to capture more money from those who do not hit the caps.

On the other hand, the other tax revenue sources (income taxes for instance) have likely been hit by the recession.

I, for one, will wait to see what the numbers actually are before I get too excited about the new budget challenges.