Ballard acknowledges Indy’s strengths, rising crime

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Thursday night, Mayor Greg Ballard revealed his goals for Indianapolis in 2014.  In his annual State of the City address, he described Indianapolis as “such a special place.”

“The state of the city is strong,” he said.  “Indy is positioned for tremendous growth.  The challenge before us right now is to maximize that growth.”

Ballard said Americans no longer feel destined for suburban living.  He said many prefer an urban lifestyle with its opportunities to “live local, shop local, and eat local.”

The development of downtown is not just for the economy of the Indianapolis metropolitan area.

“About 20 percent of all the jobs are in Indy. But, 4 percent of every job in the state are located downtown,” Ballard said.

So, to support that growth he wants to see an expanded tax base.  That, he said, would enable the city to continue to provide city services.

Ballard acknowledged the influence of violent crime on perceptions of Indianapolis.  And, he said, “most of our neighborhoods are extremely safe, but there are some areas where we face considerable challenges.”

Some of those challenges can be addressed by adding to the number of police officers.  For that, he’s bringing back a proposal that the City-County Council rejected, last year.

“This is the time to eliminate the local homestead credit subsidy,” Ballard stated.

He said that modification in tax policy could add over 100 officers to the force over the next three years.  And, he said it could be done for, on average, “less than two dollars a month.”

But, Ballard also said the crime problems of Indianapolis cannot be solved just by putting more people in uniform.  It depends on ideas such as improving opportunities for ex-offenders, once they’re released from prison: Better job training, parenting assistance.  It is a community mission.  He admitted there are no easy answers.

“This current pattern of violence is robbing us of an entire generation of young men of color and it must  stop,” he said.

His plan describes a need for “quality early childhood education and providing parents with the information they need to pick the best option for their children.”

But, he wants to enhance education through the elementary and secondary grades. Education is part of recognizing the economic potential of Indianapolis.

While Indianapolis has organizations promoting the city as a sports venue, he said we have no agency that promotes Indianapolis as a place to live.  As part of that campaign, he wants to make Indianapolis a more global city.

“Indy is a  great place. Sure, we face problems like other big cities , but we are a great city nonetheless,” he said.   And, he wants more people to know that.

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