Council OKs nearly $520M in spending on pandemic recovery, rent help, new facilities

The Indianapolis City-County Council on Monday approved about $517 million in spending for pandemic recovery initiatives, rental assistance, a range of new public buildings and several greenway projects, most of it funded with federal coronavirus relief dollars.

The approvals were welcome news to Mayor Joe Hogsett’s administration, which has faced criticism for a rise of violence in the city.

“I want to thank the City-County Council for the unanimous passage of the first several key components of a comprehensive fiscal package aimed at making our community safer, our neighborhoods stronger, and our workforce more prepared for good-paying jobs in the modern economy,” Hogsett said in a written statement. “I look forward to continued collaboration with council leadership as we move toward next month’s vote on the 2022 proposed budget, and the implementation of our transformative vision in the months beyond.”

Administration officials have spent months planning how to spend the city’s roughly $420 million American Rescue Plan allotment. President Joe Biden signed the legislation into law in March. Sixth months and plenty of U.S. Treasury guidance later, Indianapolis is moving forward with big plans.

The federal funding is handed out in two chunks. Councilors unanimously approved the first $206 million on Monday. A substantial part of it will go toward the Hogsett administration’s $166.5 million three-year anti-violence plan. Federal funding for the plan will hit $150 million after the rest of the relief dollars are sent to Indy next year.

IMPD will use $22 million for 100 new police officers, $9 million for technology and $4.5 million for 25 non-sworn public safety officers. About $82 million will go toward community investments, including $37 million to expand group violence intervention programming and a peacemaker initiative.

Anti-violence community grants will triple to $15 million for three years. An additional $250,000 will go toward domestic violence. Finally, the city will put $51.5 million into addressing “root causes” of violence, by funding mental health programming, hunger relief, workforce development training and more.

Council members also unanimously approved $91.4 million in rental assistance previously allotted to the state of Indiana, which was on track to underspend the money. The new funds will allow Indy Rent to expand help from three months to 12, according to Deputy Mayor Jeff Bennett.

There was local money involved Monday.

Councilors directed another $50 million in new bonds to an array of stormwater management projects, with just one legislator abstaining from the vote. The city’s precipitation has been on the rise in recent years, according to the National Weather Service, further stressing a system with a list of backlogged fixes.

Another two proposals were unanimously approved: $25 million for nine trail and greenway projects across Marion county and about $145 million for new public buildings. A new Coroner’s Office, juvenile offender center and forensics crime lab will all be built at the Community Justice Campus. Also included is funding for a new firehouse, solid waste facility, park family center and Indianapolis Animal Care Services building.

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