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UPDATE: Panel proposes tax hikes to add hundreds of officers

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Indianapolis officials are considering a proposal for about $29 million a year in tax increases in order to add nearly 300 officers to the city's police force.

The debate comes as the city has already seen more than 50 criminal homicides this year, putting it on pace for the highest tally in seven years.

A City-County Council task force recommended Monday an increase in the income taxes dedicated to public safety. It also backed eliminating a homeowner tax break, a step that Republican Mayor Greg Ballard has previously proposed but has been rejected by the Democratic-controlled council.

The proposal would boost the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department force from its current level of about 1,500 officers to nearly 1,800 by 2018.

“It would allow IMPD to put those officers out on the streets, more detectives, officers in vice, wherever they’re needed, they could then have the numbers that they need to adequately staff their department,” City-County Council member Mary Moriarty Adams, the chairwoman of the commission, told Fox59.

The homestead credit on property taxes would be phased out over four years, with the owner with a $100,000 home ultimately paying an extra $30 a year, said Bart Brown, the council's chief financial officer. An additional $15 million a year would be generated by an income tax increase that officials said would cost residents making $50,000 a year about $75 more a year.

Ballard has been frustrated over the refusal of council Democrats to end the homeowner tax credits.

"For three consecutive years I have asked the City-County Council to provide more funding to hire additional (police) officers, but they have refused," he said. "I will give serious thought to any proposal that emerges from the council process."

Chris Manolis, who lives just north of downtown Indianapolis, said he was among several neighborhood residents who are paying $150 a year for off-duty police officer patrols. He said he believed the proposed tax increases would be worth it to build up the police force.

"That is the main thing, having the feeling that you're more secure," he told WTHR-TV.

The 10-member police staffing commission was made up of City-Council Council members, residents, representatives of the mayor, the Fraternal Order of Police and the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

Valerie Cunningham, the city's deputy public safety director, said the additional officers would improve morale and efficiency, reduce overtime costs and allow more community policing.

"Because we are short-staffed, many officers go from run to run and don't have time for anything else," she said.

Democratic Council President Maggie Lewis said she was still fundamentally opposed to the elimination of the homestead credit, even with the phase out.

"I know they were looking at some tax options, but I am not there yet," Lewis said. "I haven't changed my view."

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  • New Idea!
    I am fed up with the property tax process, the assessments are ridiculous. I pay more than a fair share of property taxes and do not ever see a police officer. It is time to place the burden of buying MORE police officers, detectives and staff on the property owners in the areas of Indy where the crimes are being committed. If more police are needed for the high crime areas, the businesses and property owners of those areas should be paying the bills, NOT everyone in the city. I witness many police officers in several downtown districts, pulled off the main streets, out of view, napping or whatever it is that they do, and find it appalling that the council suggests we need more police at our expense. Please consider to have the crime ridden areas of Indy pay for this.
  • David West for Sheriff
    Let's get the Pacers out on the streets for public safety. $16 million a year should get taxpayers something for their money.
  • Another thing
    If I am paying for this, I don't want one dime wasted on traffic cops, meter maids, etc. These new cops need to be in the streets fighting real crime.
  • Lazy
    Because there is nothing in your bloated government that you could cut to pay for this, right? Give me a break.
  • Worst proprosal EVER
    Who will the cops protect when no one wants to live in this city because it's too expensive?
  • Tax hike for what?
    Perspective, the 2007 tax hike was supposedly earmarked for public safety as well. Tax revenues are fungible in this city-county government. More money goes into one account for a dedicated purpose and less money comes out of the general fund to be used for such purposes. The general fund continues to get squeezed as more and more property tax revenues are either diverted into TIF funds or not collected altogether due to abatements. It's a constant shell game that's played to convince poorly-informed residents that new tax dollars will be spent a certain way when the politicians know otherwise. Seriously, have you ever watched a city council meeting? The lady doing all the talking--Mary Moriarty Adams--draws four government paychecks between her and her husband. She gets a city council paycheck and another paycheck for a make-work job in the assessor's office. Her husband retired as a police officer so he could start drawing his pension and then went back on the sheriff's payroll in a higher paid job that shouldn't even exist. You trust her to make these decisions after she lied to you about the 2007 public safety tax increase?
  • homestead
    I don't mind the increase in income tax. It is "the IMPD Staffing Study Commission, also proposed phasing out the homestead tax credit" part that bothers me. This could have significant impact on people with fixed incomes.
  • Don't be so cynical...
    Do you REALLY believe this money will not be used for public safety? The use of these funds is restricted to public safety. If the money were to be used for other purposes, financial audits would catch this misuse. Furthermore, these proposals are coming from a bipartisan commission chaired by a DEMOCRAT. Hint: Mayor is a Republican. This proposal is about ensuring our city has adequate levels of police protection, not cronyism.
  • be specfiic
    who is "THEY" Mikey?
  • more waste
    Put more officers on the streets or give others a free car with all expenses paid? Get rid of the waste in driving family's around on "free" gas in patrol cars. It's old seeing this type of abuse and then hearing about shortfalls. Rid the personal abuse of cats and they can collect far more than any tax. And that includes my family as well that are officers!
  • Ridiculous
    this is absurd! so the good people of this city need to pay more bc the poor ghetto folks cant get it together? not like they will help pay for more police anyways since most are just welfare moochers! and not like they care anyways, you can throw all the resources at them and their culture will not change!!! I know several IMPD officers, and its all the same story....they go get the bad guys, someone gets shot, etc and nobody will cooperate bc the street thing to do is handle it yourself. this is their culture!!! accept it! they haven't changed in decades
    • EXACTLY
      Gary Welsh...precisely. This is absolute garbage...along with our city "leaders." Disgusting...if I could sell my house I would...sickening.
    • Tax hike for what?
      The City approved a public safety tax increase in 2007 after it recorded a record number of homicides in 2006. Our local income tax increased 65% to provide $90 million a year to fund more police officers. Guess what? The Mayor and the Council never used that money to hire the new police officers they promised. Yet the homicide rate dropped in subsequent years to what Mayor Ballard called historic lows without hiring more police officers. In fact, the Mayor still claims that overall crime rates are down since he's been mayor. The idea that this tax increase is being proposed to reduce the homicide rate or crime in this city is ludicrous. These louses use public safety as an excuse to raise taxes and then use the money for their real priorities, which is to divert hundreds of millions of dollars into TIF slush funds to pay for their crony capitalism and to pass out tax breaks to their campaign contributors. Don't believe for one moment this tax increase is about hiring more police officers. What you should be asking is what the real purpose behind this tax increase is.
      • Murder Capital
        Once a city gets a reputation it lasts for years. It will take years, if ever, for Chicago to overcome it's murder statistic and Indianapolis is heading that way. Invest now in more Police as well as community devepolment.
      • If we
        If we want more cops we need to be prepared to pay for them. $75/year sounds pretty reasonable to me. This is how taxes are supposed to work, by the way-- everyone pays a little, and in turn the money collected is used to improve the community.
      • Time To Pay Up Colts & Pacers
        Clearly the Irsay & Simon families need to significantly contribute to the public safty costs considering the hundreds of millions in city/county taxes that subsidizes all of there operating cost without taking any of the profits
      • DUH
        Ever think of using some of the money we blow on the BILLIONAIRE OWNERS of the Colts and Pacers for police protection?

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      1. The east side does have potential...and I have always thought Washington Scare should become an outlet mall. Anyone remember how popular Eastgate was? Well, Indy has no outlet malls, we have to go to Edinburgh for the deep discounts and I don't understand why. Jim is right. We need a few good eastsiders interested in actually making some noise and trying to change the commerce, culture and stereotypes of the East side. Irvington is very progressive and making great strides, why can't the far east side ride on their coat tails to make some changes?

      2. Boston.com has an article from 2010 where they talk about how Interactions moved to Massachusetts in the year prior. http://www.boston.com/business/technology/innoeco/2010/07/interactions_banks_63_million.html The article includes a link back to that Inside Indiana Business press release I linked to earlier, snarkily noting, "Guess this 2006 plan to create 200-plus new jobs in Indiana didn't exactly work out."

      3. I live on the east side and I have read all your comments. a local paper just did an article on Washington square mall with just as many comments and concerns. I am not sure if they are still around, but there was an east side coalition with good intentions to do good things on the east side. And there is a facebook post that called my eastside indy with many old members of the eastside who voice concerns about the east side of the city. We need to come together and not just complain and moan, but come up with actual concrete solutions, because what Dal said is very very true- the eastside could be a goldmine in the right hands. But if anyone is going damn, and change things, it is us eastside residents

      4. Please go back re-read your economics text book and the fine print on the February 2014 CBO report. A minimum wage increase has never resulted in a net job loss...

      5. The GOP at the Statehouse is more interested in PR to keep their majority, than using it to get anything good actually done. The State continues its downward spiral.

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