Mayor Greg Ballard's parking deal for ACS continues to get more and more scrutiny as it is shepherded through the City-County Council by At-Large Councillor Barbara Malone. This story has been on a slow boil, and it's now starting to really hit boil over stage.
The Indianapolis Business Journal did a great analysis on the piece pointing out how the city's reported $400 million take pales in comparison to what the private company ACS stands to make from the agreement: $1.2 billion. That's right...billion with a "b".
Another source informs me by e-mail that there might be some conflict of interest issues between Council President Ryan Vaughn who works for Barnes & Thornburg. Barnes & Thornburg represents ACS in this transaction.
Small business owner, Zach Adamson, also has been all over this issue. Adamson, who is running for At-Large City-County Council, put out a news release on the parking deal. Here's a portion of that release:
I was relieved to learn the committee hearing on the Mayor’s parking meter deal with controversial vendor, ACS, was canceled.
While I am certain we will hear an explanation for this cancellation different than the complete lack of support for it in the business community, and while I expect the Mayor to pressure his caucus to bring this back up, that effort will fail if our council representatives put common sense above politics.
This deal is ill-conceived and short-sighted. The Mayor has us selling our future for pennies on the dollar in a contract that is staggeringly one-sided. Councillor Barbara Malone’s sponsorship of this proposal shows she will do the Mayor’s political bidding to the long-term detriment of not only small business owners but also her constituents. .
While I understand the desire to seek more dollars given the administration's cost-cutting efforts have failed, the Mayor must not lock the city into a terrible, fifty-year deal in exchange for a few extra dollars to repair infrastructure with a life span of 8-10 years. That makes as much sense as selling your house to put brakes on your car. When the infrastructure crumbles away, what will we do when there’s nothing left to sell? We need long-term solutions to serious issues and a strategic plan outlining how we will deal with future complications.
The Mayor has given away millions to the Indiana Pacers because he said they were necessary for the downtown economy. But now he will deal a blow to the businesses that drive that same economy by driving away their customers. This proposal is contrary to every investment made over the past twenty years to revitalize the economic corridors of Downtown, Mass Ave, and Broad Ripple. During that growth period, the city has not raised parking rates. Now would be the worst time to do so. Many businesses are hanging on by a thread, and it is unthinkable that the mayor’s office cannot see this.
I am running for City-County Council because I care about the future as much as the now. We need a council intent on stemming the auctioning off of our future through discount sales of valuable city assets. Our city needs leadership determined to find long-term solutions, not short term band-aids.
Only by preserving valuable income streams and supporting our small businesses can we avoid cataclysmic tax increases or massive reductions in critical services.
The mayor may not care about what happens after he vacates the 25th floor, but I do, and so do hundreds of thousands of others. I will not stop speaking for them until financial sanity regains a foothold in the City-County Building.
Adamson has said several other downtown business owners signed a petition opposing the deal.