Monday, October 22, 2001

Indianapolis airport seeks amnesty from $6.2M fee

The Associated Press

        INDIANAPOLIS — Airport officials are asking the city to forgive $6.2 million the Indianapolis International Airport owes for its share of city services, a request that could leave the police and fire departments without enough money to operate.

        As a one-time fix to city budget problems, the tax-exempt airport was charged $9.3 million for its share of city services this year. The city planned to use the $9.3 million to pay for police and fire operations.

        But Lacy Johnson, president of the airport's board and a close adviser to Mayor Bart Peterson, said last week that the airport wants the city to forgive the final $6.2 million it owes because of the decline in air travel.

        Without that money, the police department will run out of cash in February, and the fire department will fall short before the end of next year, City Controller Kathy Davis said.

        To plug the gap, Mr. Peterson will propose a measure to allow the city to charge its wastewater treatment plants an extra $4.6 million.

        Passenger travel out of Indianapolis went down after Sept. 11 by 53 percent in the first week after the attacks, according to the airport.

        If City Council doesn't go along with the plan, Ms. Davis said, the city is left with two bad choices: laying off police officers early next year or borrowing money to pay salaries.


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