Hamilton County Council Slashes Funding for Transit

As the divide in Hamilton County government continues to deepen, the County Council slashed funding the County Commissioners requested for transit, economic development and roadwork in the 2017 budget.

Local organizations that provide services were caught in the crossfire. The council cut $59,000 from the Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority (CIRTA), $75,000 from the Hamilton County Economic Development Corp., and about $66,000 in proposed new funding for various nonprofits and professional services firms. The council also removed $2 million from the highway department, but members appear willing to restore that funding next year if necessary.

The council will hold a public hearing on the budget Oct. 5 and vote Oct. 17.

Commissioner Christine Altman said the county had the money to fully fund the requests. “These were political statements,” she said, “not fiscal issues.”

Commissioner Mark Heirbrandt said the commissioners have not yet discussed whether they will seek to restore the funding. “The commissioners haven’t even talked about it yet,” he said, “so I don’t have an answer. We meet Monday, and I’m sure we will have a conversation about it. But I really don’t see it changing.”

Councilman Rick McKinney denied the the cuts were anything but fiscal prudence. “Maybe they just need to be reminded of whose job it is to approve the budget,” he said of the commissioners.

The council members, who are the fiscal body of county government, and commissioners, who are the executive body, have been clashing frequently for several years. The majority of the council wants to keep taxes low, use debt sparingly and prioritize spending on the county’s fundamental responsibilities. But their outlook often clashes with the three county commissioners, who also want to keep a close eye on the purse strings but seek a more progressive role with spending to improve quality of life.

McKinney said businesses and business groups that have been advocating for transit should raise the money themselves, perhaps funding a system in a trial period. But he doesn’t think transit will work here. “I don’t think we’re dense enough to support transit,”‘ he said. “I’ve been to areas with transit, and they still have traffic jams. It’s not the Holy Grail it’s made out to be.”

Councilman Fred Glynn Jr. said he also voted to cut the funding because he thinks Commissioner Altman has a conflict of interest because her law firm, Altman, Poindexter and Wyatt, represents CIRTA.

Altman said she personally has ensured she receives no money from CIRTA through that contract. She said that her partner, Anne Poindexter, has represented the group since before their law firm was created earlier this year.

As Hamilton County’s representative to CIRTA, Altman has been active in the group for more than a decade. She currently serves as its chairman, a volunteer position.

Executive Director Lori Kaplan said the cut would amount to 22 percent of CIRTA’s annual $273,000 operating budget and would have an impact on services. She said CIRTA is heavily involved in the county, through providing informational transit forums for a potential referendum, through a countywide ride-share program and through coordinating on-demand transit services in the 10-county region.

She hopes to convince the county to restore the funding. “It would be a big loss for them to cut this funding,” she said. “We are disappointed it’s in their draft budget.”

Like CIRTA, the Hamilton County Economic Development Corp. is studying how the decrease in funding will impact its services next year. But unlike with CIRTA, the council cut only a portion of the group’s funding.

Hamilton County will continue to provide $175,000 annually. Fishers, Carmel and Noblesville also fund a total of $227,000. The remainder of the group’s 2016 budget of $686,000 comes through private investment. Westfield had provided the group about $30,000 but dropped its funding two years ago.

The development corporation seeks to attract new businesses to the county. But Glynn said he thinks the county’s cities are better positioned to attract development and noted they already are active in that role.

“I feel like Carmel, Fishers and Noblesville … companies are coming out because they are dealing directly with these cities,” Glynn said.

Tim Monger, the development corporation’s president and CEO, said he and his staff provide a valuable resource by reaching out to site selectors and businesses to convince them to build in Hamilton County. For instance, earlier this month he invited site selectors from California, Dallas, New York, New Jersey and Chicago during the BMW Championship at a Carmel golf course. During the trip, they met with the mayors of Carrmel, Fishers and Noblesville and toured the area.

“‘If each of our communities had to arrange these trips,” Monger said, “you’re talking about three times the expense. You have to think of Hamilton County as a regional area.”

The council also cut $2 million from the highway department. Highway Director Brad Davis said that money was going to provide a local match for $3.5 million the county has in state and federal funding to widen 276th Street from U.S. 31 to Gwinn Road near Arcadia next year, a project largely designed to accommodate large vehicles that travel to and from seed company Beck’s Hybrids.

McKinney said the council cut the $2 million to control cash flow and balance the budget. He does not think that money was earmarked for 276th Street. McKinney said he was confident the council would vote to provide the funds for 276th Street next year, if necessary. He said income tax revenue the county will receive next year would cover the cost.

Call IndyStar reporter Chris Sikich at (317) 444-6036. Follow him on Twitter: @ChrisSikich and at Facebook/chris.sikich.

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Constitution Day Celebration

Please mark your calendars and share with your friends. The Coalition of Central Indiana Tea Parties along with Indy Defenders of Liberty West will be hosting and celebrating Constitution Day on Saturday September 17th from 11:00 AM – 1:15 PM. The event will be held at the Hendricks County Government Center, 355 South Washington Street in Danville. (Second floor, accessed from northwest entrance off of Washington)

The Coalition of Central Indiana Tea Parties sponsored an essay contest for home schoolers. The title was, “Explain Why The Federal Government Has No Constitutional Authority To Be Involved in Education.” The winners will be announced at the celebration, read their essays and be presented their awards. There will be a 1st and 2nd place winner in both age categories (12-15 and 16-18) as well as 3 honorable mentions in both age categories.

Program: Featured speakers, Matt Modleski, a former Thunderbird jet pilot will talk about the “American dream.” Also speaking, John Crane of the Sagamore Leadership Initiative, a leadership development organization based in Indianapolis whose mission is “to equip next generation leaders to influence our culture for the good.”

Life size replicas of four of our Founding Fathers will be on display with a large “timeline” of our founding history. Have your picture taken with a Founder!

Come meet some of the thinkers and makers of our past and future. Everyone is invited, especially our youth, so bring your friends to an exciting mid-day event.

Sign up for this free event at Eventbrite


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Hamilton County Candidate Meet and Greet

Please mark your calendars for Tuesday, March 22nd. The Constitutional Patriots will be meeting at Central Christian church, 1242 W. 136th Street in Carmel. Doors open at 6:30 and the meeting will begin at 7:00. Entrance in the back of the building.
Candidates will have a few minutes to introduce themselves but this will be a casual meeting where you can actually talk to the candidates. Each one will have a table with their information on it.
Candidates attending:
Senator Luke Kenley and opponent Scott Willis
Representative Donna Schaibley and opponent Greg Fettig
Representative Jerry Torr and opponent Tom Linkmeyer
Hamilton County Commissioner Mark Heirbrandt and opponent Bill Smythe
Hamilton County At Large Candidates:
Brad Beaver
Jeff Hern
Rick McKinney
Hope to see you there!!
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Constitutional Patriots Meeting, Tuesday, March 22nd

Central Christian church

1242 W. 136th Street


Please join us at 7pm Tuesday, March 22nd for our monthly Constitutional Patriots meeting. We will be hosting a Hamilton County Candidate Meet and Greet with the County Commissioners, County Council, State Senate and State Representatives.

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Political Smear of Republican Candidate for County Chair

A political smear-piece regarding the candidacy of Pete Peterson for Hamilton County Republican Chairman was received yesterday, January 19th, by a number of Hamilton County Precinct Chairs, Vice Chairs and elected officials.  The document was delivered via US Post Office in an un-marked envelope without a return address.  The attribution at the bottom of the letter stated, “Members of the Constitutional Patriots of Hamilton County.”

The Constitutional Patriots wish to make it absolutely clear that the we had no role in creating or distributing this document. 

The Constitutional Patriots organization has the courage to ask tough political questions; consider diverse political opinions; and take strong political positions.  When our organization considers an issue and decides to take a position, we are not shy in making our position public, and we will stand strongly behind that position.  When we send something, it will be clear that it came from the Constitutional Patriots, not sent in an unmarked envelope.

The Constitutional Patriots believe that it is appropriate to ask tough questions of candidates and elected officials, and to hold those candidates and elected officials accountable for their votes and actions.  We do not fear being strong in our convictions and firm in our beliefs.

The Constitutional Patriots note that there is a principled method for bringing questions into the public view, including questions related to the vetting of candidates. Silently mailing anonymous, non-attributed smear-pieces to Precinct Chairmen is not a respectable method of engaging public discourse.

Hamilton County Precinct Chairs will be facing a difficult task this month in selecting a new County Republican Chairman.  This election is important.  Precinct Chairs should have the courage to vet every candidate and to ask tough questions of the people offering to lead the Party.  Anonymous smear-pieces are not an ethical means of achieving a political end.

The Constitutional Patriots reject such methods.




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Facts About Carmel Debt

State property tax cap limit of 1% has been circumvented

1) The State of Indiana has capped the private real estate property tax rate at 1%, with increased rates on commercial real property. However, there are other “Ad Valorum” taxes that can be levied against real property. One such tax is the “Special Benefits Tax.” All Carmel real properties were made subject to this new tax as a result of a refinance of Carmel Redevelopment Commission debt through bond debt agreements identified as series 2012A and 2101B. The SBT hasn’t been levied, but seems certain due to structural deficiencies in CRC financial policy.

Levy of new property tax is now the option of bond trustees

2) The Official Statement of series 2012A and 2012B provides that the bond trustee require the Commission to levy the SBT should the Debt Service Reserve Fund fall below the level required. It is not clear, but it appears the Commission may, at its option, levy the SBT. The OS states that the Commission is not required to make payments from the Tax Increment Revenue received by the Commission.

Higher new tax rates are out of property owner’s control

3) Higher new taxes have been contracted as an option of the 2012A and 2012B bond trustee, and perhaps a new taxing authority asserted by the Carmel Redevelopment Commission. Voters have no say in the matter.

Bond principle is not being repaid on major bond debt

4) Principal payments don’t begin until 02/01/2025 on bond 2012A (principal $115,900,000).This is troubling because it looks like a reflection of marginal repayment capacity of the Carmel Redevelopment Commission. Bond payments will balloon by an average of $8.5MM annually starting in 2025. The 2014 Tax Increment Financing Revenue claimed by the CRC is $17,532,007. TIF receipts will need to increase by about 50% to cover just this one bond. If revenues don’t increase at this rate, Carmel property owners are on the hook for the debt.

Current bond debt will not be repaid for over 20 years

5) Current bond debt will require debt service until 2037. The present TIF districts will have largely expired in that time, necessarily decreasing tax revenues. Having to replace TIF tax base as old districts expire, limits the potential for net new revenues. Binding future generations with debt limits their freedom to choose how they will invest. Our children should not be forced to inherit debt for the worn out “vision” of others.

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Constitutional Patriots Meeting

Join us Tuesday, April 28th at 7pm as WIBC radio talk show host, Tony Katz, will be our speaker. Come and enjoy a fun, informative meeting. Doors open at 6:30

Central Christian church, 1242 W. 136th St., Carmel. Entrance in the back.

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Carmel Debt

The Mayor is using phony numbers to cover up the shortfall in re-paying Carmel’s debt. There are roughly a dozen projects throughout the city that are supposed to be generating revenue right now, yet they’re either producing no revenue or are vastly underperforming expectations. When reality catches up to the Mayor’s phony numbers, we’re going to have to plug yet another hole. Watch our new TV ad, and if you agree that it’s time to elect a real fiscal conservative in Carmel go here to donate to help us continue to air this commercial: http://www.rick-sharp.com/?page_id=7.

Also, please go to www.carmeldebt.com for more information on Carmel’s debt

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Constitutional Patriots meeting, Tuesday, Apr. 28th

Central Christian church
1242 W. 136th Street
Carmel, IN 46032

Tuesday, April 28th, 7pm

Please join  us to hear WIBC radio talk show host, author and political commentator. Doors open at 6:30. Refreshments are served.

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The Constitutional Patriots Endorse Eric Seidensticker for City Council


Why Are You Running For Office?
I am running for re-election so that the integrity of the Central District representation will be maintained. I have served to protect the financial and community interests of the city. the city is in a very precarious position that, if allowed to continue in its present direction, would likely be detrimental to the tax base, both to the tax payer and business owner. Longevity of the conservative state is my goal.

What Are Your Qualifications For The Office You Are Seeking?
8 years experience watching the administration make financial decisions that are putting the taxpayer at risk. 8 years of standing up to partial truths by the current administration. Continuing to dig for the truth when common sense points that direction. I know that giving in to the unsupported barrage of how sunny the future will be is not representation but blind support and is the reason we are so leveraged and why so many “projects” depend on Carmel subsidies!

What Would You Like To Accomplish When In Office?
Continue my support of a conservative budget, encouragement of the operating scheme of the free market, support of businesses who provide jobs and needed services to Carmel, support the restructuring of the relationship between the city and the people with transparency and a fair and competitive work environment leading the list. Albeit Council’s limited, I will continue to support an efficient (and cost effective) Parks and Recreation Department (including multi-use paths)

How Do You Define “Fiscal Responsibility”?
Fiscal responsibility is the action of providing necessary and cost effective solutions to the city as a whole, while always being cognizant that the source of funding is not unlimited and is negatively impacted fiscally  every time an unfunded objective is created.

What Will You Do To Promote Transparency To The Citizens When You Are In Office?
Continue my encouragement and support of a list-server concept so that everyone knows (has access to) what’s going on in Carmel. I would support an accrual basis presentation of the city’s financial position. I would support the immediate disclosure to anyone requesting financial/contractual information from any department. I would support quarterly or semi-annual reports by Department heads as to their over/under budget predictions.

If you would like more biographical information on the candidate, please contact us at theconstitutionalpatriots@gmail.com

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