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Indy Parks, county assessor poised for budget cuts

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Indy Parks, the mayor’s office and the Marion County assessor will take the biggest hits in the first round of mid-year budget cuts for the city of Indianapolis.

Two budget-reduction ordinances totaling $1.6 million will be introduced to the City-County Council on Monday night. They are the result of a bipartisan budget agreement, in which the council was to help Mayor Greg Ballard’s office shave 5 percent, or about $28 million, from the general fund with the goal of preserving cash that would offset an anticipated revenue shortfall in 2014.

The task has proven difficult, especially in the criminal justice system, which includes police, fire and courts and consumes 85 percent of the $569 million general fund.

Just $267,264 of the proposed cuts would come from a combination of the Department of Public Safety, Marion Superior Court and Marion County Coroner.

The remaining $1.35 million would come from various city and county offices, and most of that will be in the personnel category.

“When it’s all said and done—no one likes to hear this—we are either going to have to decrease service or increase our revenue,” Council President Maggie Lewis said. “It gets real tricky. The people of Indianapolis are going to start to feel this.”

The largest cuts, in terms of total dollars, will come from the assessor’s office ($235,015), Department of Parks and Recreation ($236,507) and mayor’s office ($232,168).

Assessor Joseph O’Connor won't be able to hire an additional customer-service representative that had been budgeted for this year. Most of the savings will come from shifting money out of a reassessment fund to cover general-fund positions. The reassessment fund had been designated for mailing out notices, called Form 11, for the 2013 tax cycle. Instead, tax bills will serve as notice of assessed value and trigger the 45-day appeal window, he said.

Parks officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment about the pending cuts.

A large part of the mayor’s savings will come through staff attrition. Chief of Staff Ryan Vaughn, a lawyer, will take on the role of special counsel, a job that was vacated when Ballard’s former campaign manager, John Cochran, departed in February for Bose Public Affairs Group. He earned $87,550 in 2012.

The mayor’s office set out to find $28 million in savings, but agencies identified only $16.8 million. Much of that was considered unsustainable or unpalatable, such as police-officer furloughs and laying off attorneys in the Marion County Prosecutor’s office.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and Indianapolis Fire Department remain untouched for now. The Department of Public Safety cuts headed to the council, totaling about $260,000, will affect positions in Director Troy Riggs' office, Homeland Security and Animal Care and Control, Deputy Director and Chief Financial Officer Valerie Washington said. Vacant positions will remain unfilled, or they'll be shifted to grant funding, she said.

"Current staff will have to continue to do more," she said.

Some offices, including the Marion County sheriff, outlined less than the requested 5-percent savings. Lewis said talks will continue, and another round of budget-cutting ordinances will be introduced this year.

“The law enforcement piece of the budget is the largest portion of the budget, and we have to stay on top of that,” she said.

The ordinances to be introduced Monday will be referred to committee before returning to the council for a vote.

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  • What?
    I and others have been waiting to hear from our appeal for are over inflated property taxes. How shortsided to cut a department that is already behind in their work. You go Mayor, just go.
  • CRICKET
    Well atleast we still have 6 MILLION DOLLARS to waste on a cricket field. Our mayor is a fool and we need to get rid of him and his wasteful ways ASAP!
  • Next
    When is the next $10 million dollar check to the Pacers/Simons due?

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  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.

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