He told lawmakers that there's "fluff" in the Marion County budget. But he had few answers for them on where he would cut.
"Everything is on the table," he said, but repeatedly fended off questions by saying he had only been in office five weeks.
State Rep. Win Moses, D-Fort Wayne and a former mayor, said that answer wasn't good enough, and pressed for more details.
Asked if police would be laid off, Ballard said no. Asked if firefighters would be cut, Ballard said "I can't say. I just don't know. You're asking me questions that I don't know."
Moses fired back: "I'm asking questions that you must know."
And, he added, "I know you don't mean everything you're saying."
Ballard couldn't say everything was on the table, he said, and then say that police wouldn't be cut and that the possibility of raising local income taxes to pay for the property tax relief was not a viable option in Marion County.
so there's fluff in the budget, but he can't identify it (other than that he wants to start buying priuses). everything's on the table... except for the stuff that isn't. and that whole "it's my first day" excuse only goes so far—not to mention that you can't apply it selectively. the "newbie dodge", as you could call it, is similar to the "incompetence dodge" in that it effectively invalidates everything you do or say. if you haven't been around long enough to know any answers, then there's no reason to listen to you. you can't claim to be a voice of authority and simultaneously say you don't know what's going on because you just got here. it does not compute. stop wasting everyone's time and come back when you know something.
then again, what else could he have said? other mayors and county officials from the rest of the state know that the proposed caps will seriously dig into their budgets and force them to either raise taxes or make major cuts in services. but mayor ballard campaigned on a platform of "how dare mayor peterson raise our taxes" and "i'll cut the budget a whole bunch without major service cuts", so there wasn't much he could do other than ask for a handout.
he should've declined the house's invitation to testify. that way, he could've spared himself playing the fool, and the house wouldn't have wasted its time talking to someone who couldn't answer any of their questions. ¶