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Council to weigh probe of public safety lease deal

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A bipartisan group of city-county councilors wants to investigate the Regional Operations Center, which Public Safety Director Troy Riggs ordered vacated on Sept. 9 over fire-safety code violations.

The council will vote Monday night on a resolution to create an investigative committee, looking at "why the Department of Public Safety entered into an allegedly unfavorable long-term lease and other agreements relating to the Regional Operations Center."

Located in the former Eastgate Consumer Mall on the city's east side, the 75,000-square-foot center housed about 150 police and homeland security employees. Riggs ordered the employees to evacuate on Sept. 9 after city fire and building inspectors deemed the building unsafe.

The resolution is backed by Democrats Joe Simpson, Pam Hickman, Zach Adamson, Frank Mascari and Mary Moriarty Adams, as well as Republicans Aaron Freeman and Marilyn Pfisterer.

Simpson said Friday that he proposed the committee after seeing WTHR-TV's interview with property owner Alex Carroll, who claimed to have received a secret up-front payment along with the lease, which is worth $18 million over 25 years. Department of Public Safety officials haven't confirmed that the payment took place.

"I have the ability to get to the bottom of it, if this committee is approved," Simpson said.

Simpson said the committee would have 10 members, five from each party, and the same subpoena powers as regular council committees. Lingering questions about the deal might have to be answered by former Public Safety Director Frank Straub, Simpson said.

Also Monday night, the council is set to vote on the city's 2014 budget. The majority-Democrat council and Republican Mayor Greg Ballard have yet to reach a compromise. The main sticking point continues to be how to cover a roughly $9 million shortfall in the Department of Public Safety and maintain current staffing levels in the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

Related to the police staffing issue, Democratic Councilor John Barth will introduce a proposal to create a bipartisan study commission on the "appropriate and necessary number of IMPD officers and to review and analyze long-term funding options." Barth said he wants to study the issue, regardless of how the city decides to fund public safety in 2014.

"I don't want IMPD staffing to be a political issue," he said. "From a council perspective, it's literally impossible to budget appropriately if we don't have a number that we're shooting for, a number we agree on."

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  • Horrible Lease for City
    WOW! A 25-year lease commitment is ridiculous for this type of use...

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  1. I am not by any means judging whether this is a good or bad project. It's pretty simple, the developers are not showing a hardship or need for this economic incentive. It is a vacant field, the easiest for development, and the developer already has the money to invest $26 million for construction. If they can afford that, they can afford to pay property taxes just like the rest of the residents do. As well, an average of $15/hour is an absolute joke in terms of economic development. Get in high paying jobs and maybe there's a different story. But that's the problem with this ask, it is speculative and users are just not known.

  2. Shouldn't this be a museum

  3. I don't have a problem with higher taxes, since it is obvious that our city is not adequately funded. And Ballard doesn't want to admit it, but he has increased taxes indirectly by 1) selling assets and spending the money, 2) letting now private entities increase user fees which were previously capped, 3) by spending reserves, and 4) by heavy dependence on TIFs. At the end, these are all indirect tax increases since someone will eventually have to pay for them. It's mathematics. You put property tax caps ("tax cut"), but you don't cut expenditures (justifiably so), so you increase taxes indirectly.

  4. Marijuana is the safest natural drug grown. Addiction is never physical. Marijuana health benefits are far more reaching then synthesized drugs. Abbott, Lilly, and the thousands of others create poisons and label them as medication. There is no current manufactured drug on the market that does not pose immediate and long term threat to the human anatomy. Certainly the potency of marijuana has increased by hybrids and growing techniques. However, Alcohol has been proven to destroy more families, relationships, cause more deaths and injuries in addition to the damage done to the body. Many confrontations such as domestic violence and other crimes can be attributed to alcohol. The criminal activities and injustices that surround marijuana exists because it is illegal in much of the world. If legalized throughout the world you would see a dramatic decrease in such activities and a savings to many countries for legal prosecutions, incarceration etc in regards to marijuana. It indeed can create wealth for the government by collecting taxes, creating jobs, etc.... I personally do not partake. I do hope it is legalized throughout the world.

  5. Build the resevoir. If built this will provide jobs and a reason to visit Anderson. The city needs to do something to differentiate itself from other cities in the area. Kudos to people with vision that are backing this project.

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