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Ballard to nix parts of council budget

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Mayor Greg Ballard plans to sign a $1 billion budget plan approved by the Indianapolis City-County Council earlier this month, but only after using his line-item veto powers to kill major portions of it, including the council’s plan to recruit a new class of police and firefighters.

“We’ve been in pretty intense and repeated discussions with the council over the last 10 days, and it’s pretty clear we’re not able to reach agreement,” Chief of Staff Ryan Vaughn said Friday morning while announcing the mayor's intentions. Friday is the deadline for the mayor to act on the council’s budget plan.

Ballard will use the line-item veto to eliminate $32 million in county-option income tax revenue from the Marion County general fund, which covers the sheriff, auditor and prosecutor’s offices, among other functions. Vaughn said he hopes that will bring council Democrats to the table to discuss solutions to an ongoing structural deficit.

Ballard also will veto a police and fire recruiting fund, which the council set up to receive money from the Capital Improvement Board’s anticipated $15 million payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT. So even if CIB officials, who vehemently oppose the PILOT, were to make the payment, there would be no way for the council to spend it.

A consortium of countywide Democratic elected officials hammered Ballard's plan in a statement Friday afternoon as "my way or the highway politics."

"It is reckless, irresponsible, and in fact unlawful for the mayor to decide to cut critical services like prosecution of crimes, death investigations, court administration and child support," Democrats said in the release. It posits that Indiana Code prohibits the mayor from vetoing any part of the budget for countywide officers specified in the state constitution or for judicial offices or officers.

Officials who signed the statement include Auditor Billie Breaux, Assessor Joe O'Connor, Coroner Frank Lloyd, Prosecutor Terry Curry and Sheriff John Layton.

Democratic City-County Councilor Angela Mansfield, who also is chairwoman of the council's administration and finance committee, said earlier on Friday that Vaughn didn’t make much effort to work out a compromise before the council adopted its budget. “I think they’ve been playing a game of chicken,” she said.

The Capital Improvement Board runs Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium, and funds entities like VisitIndy, which promotes the city's hospitality and convention business. Council Democrats targeted the CIB’s reserve fund after rejecting Ballard’s plan to close the 2013 budget gap in part by eliminating the homestead property-tax credit. The credit, which generates an average annual homeowner savings of $20, is different from the more significant homestead deduction.

The council didn’t present Ballard with the CIB budget ordinance, which is separate from the city’s budget, but Vaughn said Ballard will issue a memo stating he believes he has the authority to veto it.

Finally, Ballard will veto the council’s $652,000 personnel budget, which covers a chief counsel and chief financial officer, and included $100,000 for a new redistricting plan. To pay staff, the council will have to submit an appropriations request after Jan. 1.

The council will have to do the same in order to keep funding level for county agencies. Vaughn said Ballard won’t approve the spending unless Democrats work with him to address an anticipated $35 million structural gap for 2014.

Ballard’s own budget had anticipated a $14 million gap for 2014, but the figure will grow if the city doesn't eliminate the homestead credit, which is worth about $9 million, and because the city will spend more than expected from the rainy day fund in 2013.

Ballard’s 2013 budget called for spending $17 million from the rainy day fund, which includes money that the state Department of Revenue realized it had failed to pay some cities and towns.

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  • Incompitent
    Some more lunacy from a mayor who is steered by a big law firm coupled with his disdain forour police department for rebuking his choice of safety directon Frank Straub and the FOP backing Melina Kennedy in the last election. Typical Ballard and cronies.

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  1. By the way, the right to work law is intended to prevent forced union membership, not as a way to keep workers in bondage as you make it sound, Italiano. If union leadership would spend all of their funding on the workers, who they are supposed to be representing, instead of trying to buy political favor and living lavish lifestyles as a result of the forced membership, this law would never had been necessary.

  2. Unions once served a noble purpose before greed and apathy took over. Now most unions are just as bad or even worse than the ills they sought to correct. I don't believe I have seen a positive comment posted by you. If you don't like the way things are done here, why do you live here? It would seem a more liberal environment like New York or California would suit you better?

  3. just to clear it up... Straight No Chaser is an a capella group that formed at IU. They've toured nationally typically doing a capella arangements of everything from Old Songbook Standards to current hits on the radio.

  4. This surprises you? Mayor Marine pulled the same crap whenhe levered the assets of the water co up by half a billion $$$ then he created his GRAFTER PROGRAM called REBUILDINDY. That program did not do anything for the Ratepayors Water Infrastructure Assets except encumber them and FORCE invitable higher water and sewer rates on Ratepayors to cover debt coverage on the dough he stole FROM THE PUBLIC TRUST. The guy is morally bankrupt to the average taxpayer and Ratepayor.

  5. There is no developer on the planet that isn't aware of what their subcontractors are doing (or not doing). They hire construction superintendents. They have architects and engineers on site to observe construction progress. If your subcontractor wasn't doing their job, you fire them and find someone who will. If people wonder why more condos aren't being built, developers like Kosene & Kosene are the reason. I am glad the residents were on the winning end after a long battle.

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