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(News) Mayor announces new tax hikes to bail out CIB

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Mayor Greg Ballard has announced his plan to save downtown Indianapolis from its economic demise.

At a press conference today, the mayor released details of how he believes the city can best come up with the needed funds to counter a nearly $50 million shortfall for the Capital Improvements Board (CIB) — most of it will come from tax increases.

"The financial problems related to the CIB did not happen overnight," said Ballard. "And this is about more than the CIB. It's about Downtown Indianapolis, which serves as the economic engine for the county, the region and the state. It's about 66,000 jobs and $3.5 billion in annual revenue generated by the hospitality industry."

Mayor Ballard outlined "a plan designed to both foster continued growth in downtown's thriving restaurant, hotel and retail businesses industry and also continue to support local sports teams as an integral part of the downtown economy — a balance necessary for the convention and tourism industry to be able to bid for bigger, more lucrative business. "

Components of the plan include:

-- a four percent increase in the ticket tax on all events at facilities the CIB operates, including Lucas and Conseco, from 6 percent to 10 percent (expected yield: $6 million)

-- a one percent increase in the Marion County hotel tax (expected yield: $4 million)

-- a two percent increase in the Marion County car rental tax (expected yield $2 million) the ability to increase the local alcohol tax (expected yield $10-12 million; if county captures 100 percent of local consumption)

-- Contributions from the Indiana Pacers and Indianapolis Colts of $5 million each

-- cuts of nearly $8 million to the CIB, which could include additional cuts to arts funding in Indianapolis.

-- a requested expansion of the "Professional Sports Development Area" in downtown to include the new JW Marriott and expand the scope of the tax to include sales and income (expected yield $8.8 million)

"We have worked to develop a plan that will preserve the industry we seek to support while recognizing the parameters I've always laid out — that the solution should be more reliant on the users of the facilities and those who most directly benefit from them," said Mayor Ballard. "That's why we've worked diligently to craft a solution that doesn't involve broad-based taxes like food and beverage, income, or property taxes."

"I'm committed to continue working with state and city legislative leaders to enact a solution that will bolster our important economic engine that provides 66,000 jobs and revenues that are critical to the county, regional and state economies," the mayor continued.

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