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Friday, April 18, 2014

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  • Myth #1: Mayor Ballard’s budget raises everyone’s property taxes (Howey Politics Indiana). FACT: Approximately 40% of Marion County homesteads already have their property taxes capped at the one-percent maximum allowed by the Indiana Constitution. If a homestead is capped already at one percent, none of the tax restructuring proposed by Mayor Ballard would impact the property tax bill. FACT:  Expanding the IMPD Special Service Taxing District citywide, would result in a TAX CUT for homesteads not above the tax caps in the old city limits. A home with $100,000 in assessed valuation get a property tax cut from $365 per year to $114 per year. Even if those homeowners would be negatively impacted by the elimination of the Local Homestead Credit, these homeowners would see a tax cut of approximately $229 per year. FACT: Many homes outside the old City limits are already at the tax caps, particularly in Decatur, Franklin and Lawrence Townships. Mayor Ballard’s proposal would not impact their property tax bills. Homeowners can determine what, if any, impact the elimination of the local Homestead Tax Credit would have on their property bill by visiting: http://cms.indy.gov/HomesteadCreditCommission.

    Myth #2: City-County Council Majority Leader Vernon Brown told WRTV-TV "They didn't do it in 2007 when he was mayor and Ryan Vaughn was Council President, they didn’t do it in 2008 when he was mayor and Ryan Vaughn was Council President, they didn't do it in 2009.” FACT: Mayor Greg Ballard took office on January 1, 2008. Ryan Vaughn became President of the City-County Council in 2010. In 2007, Mayor Bart Peterson was in office and Democrats served in the Majority of the City-County Council. FACT: Mayor Bart Peterson suggested expanding the Police Taxing District in 2002, even before the merger, to help cover costs of then-Indianapolis Police Department. FACT: When Mayor Bart Peterson and the Democratically-controlled City-County Council voted to merge the Indianapolis Police Department and the Marion County Sheriff’s Department in 2005, they did not expand the IMPD taxing district.
     
  • Cummins is partnering with Nissan to manufacture a new diesel engine at its Columbus facility (Wright, Indiana Public Media). For the first time in more than a decade the Columbus plant will return to engine production. More than 200 million dollars was spent to create the Cummins 5-liter V8 Turbo Diesel engine. It’ll be available in Nissan’s new line of Titan trucks. Officials say the partnership could add 800 jobs at the facility. Cummins’ General Manager Jeff Caldwell says the company has already started hiring. “For most of the 60’s and into the 1980’s we produced more than 60 percent of all of the U.S. heavy duty truck engines on this site so it is really tremendous to see engine manufacturing returning to this plant again,” he says. The plant plans to ship commercial engines in the fourth quarter of 2014 and expects most of the new hiring will occur that year. Cummins plans to expand the engine line in the future-offering it to other customers and in other vehicles. 
  • Gen Con Indy 2013 had record attendance and growth never experienced before (Parker, WIBC). Turnstile attendance was measured at 159,364 and unique attendance was 49,058 which was a 20% growth from 2012. Gen Con has grown more than 75% in five years. The attendees experienced 12,000 gaming and entertainment events, and 360 company exhibits. Organizers say Gen Con accounts for more than $47 million in yearly economic impact to Indianapolis. The only event to surpass that number was the 2012 Super Bowl. 
  • Tuesday, Mayor Tom Henry was joined by City staff and Downtown Improvement District officials for a business walk in downtown Fort Wayne. The walk served as an opportunity to talk to and get feedback from downtown business owners (Howey Politics Indiana). In recent weeks, Mayor Henry and his staff have participated in several business and neighborhood walks. “We continue to see positive momentum in downtown,” said Mayor Henry. “It’s great to hear business owners share their success stories and describe their excitement about the opportunities in our downtown. We’re seeing how proactive efforts have positioned us for growth and success in the heart of our City.” 
  • Jerri Lerch insists she's no Prohibitionist and fully supports efforts to revitalize downtown Fort Wayne (Leininger, Fort Wayne News-Sentinel). But when she hears civic leaders suggest that more liquor will also create more economic vitality, the executive director of the city's Drug and Alcohol Consortium cringes because she knows from painful experience that any financial gains will be matched and perhaps exceeded by costs that cannot be measured in dollars alone. And so, when City Council conducts a public hearing Tuesday on a resolution that would allow certain downtown businesses to apply for low-cost three-way liquor licenses in excess of the state's population-based quota system, Lerch will be there. Not to object, but to suggest that at least some of the program's anticipated revenues should be used to prevent or address the problems she fears it will exacerbate. 
  • Indiana's most famous 2½-mile oval is getting a traffic circle (Associated Press). The Speedway Redevelopment Commission says it will turn the intersection in front of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway into a roundabout next summer. WRTV-TV Channel 6 reports the $14 million project will connect 16th Street with Crawfordsville Road and Main Street. However, Georgetown Road will be cut off from the intersection and come a dead end. Commission Executive Director Scott Harris says the roundabout will make the intersection more functional, easier to use and safer. Speedway President Doug Boles says the track hopes the roundabout improves the flow of traffic going to the venue. Most of the construction will start after next year's Indianapolis 500. 
  • Evansville’s sewer rates are poised to jump as the city begins federally mandated construction projects to curb combined sewer overflows (Martin, Evansville Courier & Press). The Utility Board on Tuesday voted 4-0 to send the City Council a proposal for three years’ worth of increases. The rate for residential customers is to grow 32 percent in 2014, 8 percent in 2015 and 18 percent in 2016. The City Council will take up the proposal on first reading Monday, with final readings anticipated Sept. 23. Revenue from the increase is to fund the largest public works project in Evansville’s history. The city’s consent decree with federal regulatory agencies calls for compliance with the Clean Water Act of 1972, mandating control of combined sewer overflows. Those occur when stormwater and sanitary wastewater runoffs exceed capacity of existing infrastructure. The city’s final plans remain subject to Environmental Protection Agency approval, but utility officials say work needs to get started and $120 million is needed to fund projects though 2016. In total, the cost over 28 years could reach $540 million, according to the utility. 
  • Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight announced Monday Steve Whikehart has been hired as the city’s director of development, a city leadership position responsible for community and economic development planning (Kokomo Tribune). “The local economy is moving forward, and as we position Kokomo to be the ideal place to start a business, build a career and raise a family, we needed someone with a bold vision and fresh approach,” Goodnight said in a statement Monday. 
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will investigate whether chemical vapors are migrating from a Muncie Superfund site into as many as 50 nearby homes (WTHR-TV). EPA's Superfund on-scene coordinator Shelly Lam tells The Star Press the year-long study is part of a $700,000 cleanup at the former Kiser Plating factory. It's located about a block from a YMCA, a fast-food restaurant and a health clinic. The EPA has scheduled a public meeting to answer questions about the cleanup and the vapor study Wednesday evening at a library. 
  • Tuesday, organizers of the 2013 ABC Miracle Mile Parade announced UIndy President Robert Manuel, together with his family, will serve as the parade’s grand marshal (Howey Politics Indiana). The parade – scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday, August 31st – is the centerpiece of Gateway Fest, a one-day community celebration of the seven neighborhoods that comprise Indianapolis’ near south side. 
  • The Bloomington city budget hearings began Monday night (Jenkins, Indiana Public Media). The city asked to present the budget request in August instead of July this year. Mayor Mark Kruzan says this allows for much more accuracy with regard to property and income tax distributions…But the City Council did approve funding for a few new employees. Kruzan says two additional police officers would take the city force up to 100, a number he says the department feels is adequate for now. Kruzan also proposed using revenue from the newly installed downtown parking meters to fund a Downtown Rapid Response Team. “Their sole mission will be to respond to graffiti, vandalism, damage from storms – whatever it might be that challenges downtown’s condition,” says Kruzan.. 
  • Funds to be used for attracting tourism to the city raised audience members’ eyebrows during Tuesday night’s Common Council meeting (Quinn, Post-Tribune). The council voted 7-0 — with Councilwomen Kim Robinson, D-5, and Carolyn Rogers, D-4, absent — to pass an ordinance establishing $60,000 of the 2013 tourism appropriations. The city will pay $30,000 to market the new Marquette Park, while $28,000 will be split the following ways: $5,000 will pay for a Sept. 17 dinner for legislators; $5,000 for a dinner for bankers and business people seeking to invest in the city; $5,000 for the annual Michael Jackson commemoration; $10,000 for Genesis Center marketing; and $3,000 for miscellaneous marketing materials and souvenirs. 
  • As city employees got to work cleaning up areas in the Roosevelt neighborhood Tuesday morning, the city itself received a healthy boost toward getting its youth into the trades (Quinn, Post-Tribune). Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, along with the Rev. Marvin Davis of New Life Ministry M.B. Church and other dignitaries, accepted $1,041,983 in grant money from the U.S. Department of Labor to fund the church’s YouthBuild Program. The program works with at-risk young people between 16 and 24 to get them into the trades. Started in 1992, the program can be viewed as a substitute for regular schooling, though Davis doesn’t necessarily encourage students to drop out…The program accepts up to 60 students per 34-month cycle, and they are then placed with the Coalition International Trades Training Union, a union that furthers their training an additional 48 months then places them in jobs. More than 900 students have gone on to jobs through the program, said CITT President Chester Dickinson. 
  • Next month, another 70 veterans will head to Washington D.C. on another Indy Honor Flight, which aims to take as many World War II veterans as possible to the memorial before they’re gone (Raines, Statehouse File). Most of the veterans are in their 80s and 90s and – since the memorial wasn’t dedicated until 2004 – many have never had a chance to see it. Since its formation three years ago, the Indy Honor Flight – part of a larger network of groups – has taken 150 veterans to Washington D.C., with the next trip planned for Sept. 7. Each chartered flight holds about 150 people, including 70 veterans and 70 guardians. Guardians are volunteers who go on the trips to serve as mentors. Each veteran is matched with a guardian to help them with any needs they may have. In addition, medical personnel are on board should an emergency arise. 
  • The homicide rate in Indianapolis was on pace to top 150 earlier this summer (Klemet, WFYI). But, a group of church leaders are praising recent efforts that they say are making a real difference and slowing the violence. Between June 1st and the end of July there were nearly 30 murders in the city with about half of the victims under the age of 30. But, there hasn’t been a homicide in the city since August 11th and Reverend Charles Harrison of the Ten Point Coalition says that’s because more people are volunteering and reaching out to troubled neighborhoods. "Some of the people that are now involved with us during the faith walks are what call ‘OG’s,’" he said. "These are individuals that used to be involved in criminal activity years ago - 20, 30 years ago - who are now walking the streets with us."…Harrison says momentum for the change started with increased outreach efforts during the Black Expo Summer Celebration. 
  • A former prominent Indianapolis lawyer who pleaded guilty in July to defrauding clients of $4.5 million wants to keep $2 million in legal fees he says were legitimately earned (Associated Press). William Conour's attorney, Michael Donahoe, said Tuesday that the defense is still negotiating with authorities to what amount Conour is entitled.  "There seems to be a significant difference of opinion between the government and us," said Donahoe, who works for the U.S. public defender's office. Donahoe said the government wants to count Conour's legal fees toward restoring clients' losses, while Conour believes he is entitled to legitimate legal fees and expenses. Officials with the U.S. attorney's office in Urbana, Ill., which is prosecuting the case, did not answer phone calls from The Associated Press seeking comment. Court proceeding are being conducted in federal court in Indianapolis. Conour is scheduled to be sentenced in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis on Oct. 17. The 66-year-old Conour could face up to 20 years in prison. 
  • Cass County residents working to put a stop to annexation plans met Tuesday to talk progress (WLFI-TV). About a dozen residents met at the Washington Township fire station Tuesday tonight. The city of Logansport voted back in July to move ahead with annexation plans on the city's south side. The plan will add about 25- hundred acres and includes about 40 homes. Cass County residents who are against the annexation currently have 100 signed petitions for the southwest side and 25 petitions for the southeast side of the annexation area. 
  • County officials began reviewing department budget proposals for the 2014 fiscal year Tuesday morning (Higgins, Evansville Courier & Press). After enduring a $2 million budget shortfall this year that is expected to continue the next few years, County Council members plan scrutinize every department and office budget to find things to cut this budget season, said Council President Tom Shetler. “It’s going to be hard work,” Shetler said. But Tuesday morning, a few departments told the Council they’ve made pre-emptive cuts for 2014. 
  • In mid-July, Vigo County Treasurer Jim Bramble sent out more than 2,400 notices of unpaid personal property taxes, largely to businesses (Greninger, Terre Haute Tribune Star). It’s part of the job of a county treasurer to certify delinquent personal property taxes, but it has not been done since at least 2000. Bramble said there is about $8.4 million in uncollected taxes, but he expects just about 20 to 25 percent of that to be collected. Some of the businesses may no longer exist or people may be deceased. As of Tuesday, the treasurer had collected $50,000 in delinquent personal property taxes. 
  • The Miami County Health Department reported three pools of mosquitoes tested positive earlier this month for West Nile virus in southern parts of the county (Gerber, Kokomo Tribune). County officials said this is the first reported case of West Nile virus activity in 2013. So far this year, no cases of the virus have been reported in Howard County, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. Tipton County reported one case of an infected mosquito. The state health department reported 136 cases of infected mosquitoes statewide so far this year. Allen and Vigo counties lead the state with 12 cases. Marion County comes in second with 11 infected mosquito pools. 
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  • Pence blasts Obama diplomacy with Russia in Berlin
    “With Russian aggression on the rise, clearly conciliatory diplomacy has failed. While sanctions are of some value, in the interest of our alliance, I believe the United States and the EU must respond with deeds more than words to strengthen our economic and strategic defenses. And, with continued instability in the Middle East, Iran’s ongoing effort to develop long-range missiles and nuclear technology, and Putin’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in Ukraine, I believe we must take immediate steps to deploy a robust missile defense in Europe – especially Poland and the Czech Republic – to protect the interests of our NATO allies and the United States in the region.” - Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, delving into foreign policy in Berlin Wednesday, fueling more speculation about the 2016 presidential race. 
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Dem Gov

Who would be the best gubernatorial nominee for Indiana Democrats in 2016?







 

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