Mayor Ballard unveils 2015 budget proposal

(WISH Photo/Rob Ressler)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard laid out his $1.034 billion, 2015 budget proposal to the City County Council Monday.

Ballard addressed what is and isn’t in the budget proposal including what it means for extra officers on the streets.

This budget doesn’t include the funds to increase Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s force.  In order for that to happen, the City-County Council has to vote on a separate proposal to take more money from taxpayers.

“Our budget invests in our priorities.  Public safety, parks and neighborhoods,” said Ballard.

The budget includes criminal rehabilitation programs, 20 new Indianapolis Firefighter recruits and the funding for 50 new IMPD officers each year through 2018.

“I’m a police chief.  I’m never going to say 50 is enough,” said IMPD Chief Rick Hite.

That is why the mayor had a second proposal Monday.  It’s a crime-prevention proposal that would bring the number of new officers for 2015 to 90.  The proposal requires the council to approve eliminating the homestead credits and increasing the public safety income tax.

“We have heard over and over that people don’t support the elimination of the homestead credit for Pre-K.  However, they were warming up to the idea of doing that for additional officers.  The public safety tax increase, we’ve heard a little bit more favorable responses to that,” said Maggie A. Lewis (D), City-County Council President.

This proposal is to get more officers on the street now.  A more long term approach Ballard wants is for the General Assembly to pass a commuter tax.  A commuter tax would mean for those who travel to work in Indianapolis, their income tax would go to Indianapolis instead of the city where they live.

The earliest the General Assembly could even discuss the issue is May.  It could be years, if ever, for it to be approve.  Mayor Ballard and Chief Hite say they can’t wait.

“372 square miles, over a million people, 1500 police officers.  That says it all,” said Hite.

Without the additional proposal IMPD numbers basically flat line.  The force increases from 1,565 to 1,596 over the next four years.  If the crime prevention proposal passes, it would have IMPD staffing levels be at its highest of all time resulting in 1,677 officers by 2018.

“What we’re looking for is making sure that we have adequate workforce,” said Hite.

“I really think that we are going to work together and at the end it will be win-win for everybody,” said Lewis.

“So, the time is now for us to act together to make our city safer and help guide thousands of children to better lives,” said Ballard,

The council has until October 22 to pass the proposal.

If the council does approves the proposal if the General Assembly ever passes a commuter tax, Mayor Ballard says this crime prevention proposal would be resended.  That means the increased tax will go away and the homestead credit will return.

Mayor Ballard says there will be town hall meetings beginning later this week for the public to voice their concerns or suggestions.

The Mayor also unveiled his Early Childhood Education Proposal.  It would mean $50 million for an early childhood education over a five-year period.   That would be $25 million from city funds and $25 from other government/philanthropic grants.  Eli Lilly has already pledged that if this proposal is passed it will raise $10 million over the next 3 years to support it.

Mayor Ballard plans to host a town hall meeting on the Public Safety and Early Education Initiative Wednesday August 20th at 7:00 p.m.  The meeting will be held at the Southport Presbyterian Church at 7525 McFarland Blvd.


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