City-County Council, Ballard still split on budget

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The Indianapolis City-County Council approved one piece of Mayor Greg Ballard's budget proposal Monday night, but they're no closer to agreement on the whole $1 billion spending plan.

The majority-Democrat council and Republican mayor both say they want to hire more police officers, but they can't agree on how to pay for them. The split persists, even as the city prepares for the funeral of police officer Rod Bradway, who was killed responding to a domestic disturbance on Sept. 20. Bradway's funeral is Thursday at Banker's Life Fieldhouse.

“I'm a little physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted,” Rick Snyder, first vice president of the local Fraternal Order of Police, said in public testimony on the budget. “I spent the entire weekend, while all of you were making phone calls back and forth, trying to work out a political solution, planning a funeral,” he told the council.

“It can't be a band-aid for 2014,” Snyder added. “It's got to be a long-term, five-year minimum plan. Set aside everything. Dig down deep. This isn't a joke and it isn't a game. Lives are at stake. Do the right thing. Work together.”

The council voted 15-12 to expand the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's special taxing district from the old city limits to the Marion County lines, adding $1.3 million in revenue for the police department.

But the council immediately shot down a Republican attempt to revive the mayor's proposal on eliminating the homestead tax credit, which when combined with a larger IMPD taxing district would have provided $11.5 million for police.

The council has rejected homestead-credit elimination four times since Ballard first proposed it a year ago as part of the 2013 budget. In a 15-12 vote Monday night, the council refused to add the matter to its agenda.

Ballard's level-funded budget hinged on the tax measures, so without the council's support, he's facing an $8 million revenue gap. Democratic leaders have proposed tapping the city's parking-meter fund, which is normally spent on public works, and a projected fund balance of the city's Information Services Agency, which was marked for long-term capital projects.

Council Vice President John Barth said he hoped Ballard would accept the council's actions Monday as a compromise and keep on the table his previous offer to take $7 million from the city's $80 million fiscal stability fund to hire even more officers. Mayoral Chief of Staff Ryan Vaughn couldn't be reached for comment Monday, but reaction from other Republicans was not positive.

Marion County Republican Chairman Kyle Walker kept up a barrage of tweets during the council meeting. “Council Dems continue to show they aren't serious about real, long-term public safety solutions,” he tweeted.

The council is scheduled to vote on an amended budget Oct. 14.

Expansion of the IMPD taxing district means the city's $35 million levy will be spread over a larger area, lowering taxes on a $100,000 home in the old city limits from $36.50 a year to $11.40.

Property owners in the rest of the county, not including Lawrence, Beech Grove, Southport and Speedway, would see taxes increase by 11.4 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, but only if their bills aren't already capped at 1 percent, as mandated by the state constitution.

IMPD's patrol area was expanded through a 2007 merger with the Marion County Sheriff, but the tax district was not. At the time, the city was facing a huge police-pension shortfall, and officials didn't want to transfer that liability to taxpayers who previously only were served by the sheriff. The state has since taken over those pension obligations.


  • Cop
    I agree that we don't need more cops, we just need the cops we have to pick up the pace, focus and listen. Pick up the pace - how many times a week do you see a cop parked for 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or an hour in some secluded spot at the back of a parking lot? How many times do you see two cops parked next to one another chatting it up. I see it plenty. Focus - on familiarizing yourselves with that 2% of the population that needs to some extra attention from IMPD. Pay attention to their actions, movements, and acquantances. This is what cops should be doing instead of wasting time parked somewhere waiting on a call. And it doesn't take 2 cops to file a simple report. Stop bull***ing and get back in the rotation. Listen to the residents who know more about crime in their neighborhoods than you do. Really listen. Prove you are listening by focusing on quality of life issues rather than petty traffic stops and the like. We don't need more cops, we need IMPD to stop abusing privilege and tighten up their game.
  • No Need for more Police
    Based on a recent experience I would say we need to instruct our existing police officers on what to focus on, not hire new ones. After work last week I pulled out of a side street (downtown during rush hour)and crossed 4 lanes of traffic, as I do everyday, so that I could make a right turn at the next light. I was pulled over by an IMPD officer who of course asked me if I knew why he pulled me over. I must have looked completely confused because I really had no clue. I was not speeding, flossing my teeth or texting. When he told me that I needed to signal each time I changed lanes I nearly laughed in his face. I thought surely I must be on candid camera, prank TV or some such show. And, as I was sitting there talking to the police officer, a Sheriff (I swear it is the truth) did the exact same thing I had just done. When I ponited that fact out to the IMPD officer he said, I am focused on you right now. He did end up giving me a warning, not a ticket, becasue I had a "good" driving record. I have a tip for the IMPD. Focus on the bad guys. Take all of your traffic beat guys and have them work on real crime, especially at a time when you are lobbying hard to spend MY money on hiring more police officers. It is 2% of the Marion county residents that create the need for police officers in the first place. I appreciate the fact that police officers put thier life on the line everyday but just focus on the bad guys, Okay?
  • Ballard is a Republican
    Ballard should say "I am a member of the GOP" while he is running for office. This "I don't like labels" crap is just that...crap. Marion County residents have been fooled by campaign Ballard. Stop splitting the ticket for this guy.

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