Public Safety Tax increase approved, what’s next?

(WISH Photo/Brett Bensley)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Marion County residents can expect to pay more income taxes to get additional police officers on the street. In a 19-10 vote, City-County Council approve the Public Safety Tax hike Monday night.

Residents who make $50,000 a year, the increase will cost about $6.25 per month or $75 a year. But for the mayor, he says it’s not enough to fund his entire plan. The hike will bring in $29-million.

“Unlike so many other times when you hear people say, ‘Don’t raise my taxes. Don’t raise my taxes,’ that was changing a little bit. They were saying we have to get more cops on the street and if you have to raise my taxes to do it, I’m OK with that,” Councillor Zach Adamson said.

$16-million goes directly to the Indianapolis Department of Public Safety. Marion County justice agencies get $11-million and municipalities take the nearly $2-million left over.

“Mayor Ballard has been asking more money to hire IMPD officers for three years now, so this is the first time that the council has moved forward to do that,” Ballard spokesman Marc Lotter said.

Mayor Ballard’s office predicts the money will get more than 100 additional officers on duty by 2018. The fraternal order of police say while it’s a step in the right direction, it’s not enough.

“It leaves us about 100 short of where we need to be,” FOP 86 Vice President Rick Snyder said.

But it may be all they get. The tax approved Monday night is specifically gathered for public safety. The council took no action on the Mayor’s plan to eliminate the Homestead Tax Credit. The mayor has said he would use most of that money for pre-k education and the rest for public safety. Councilman Adamson says the mayor could change his mind on how that money is spent, which make him uneasy.

“The lack of certainty that we have, just because the mayor is asking for it for these things doesn’t mean it’s going to be spent on those things,” Adamson said.

But the FOP and Mayor Ballard say more money is needed to take an aggressive stance against crime.

“In terms of addressing a crisis in our community, it does seem to be a small price to pay that can have a significant return on that small investment,” Snyder said.

The Homestead Tax Credit item is scheduled to be in front of a committee Tuesday evening, but the mayor’s office expects it to be postponed and taken up again next week.

If the Homestead Tax Credit is eliminated it would cost the average homeowner $1.84 per month. Some homeowners would not have to pay anything. The council is not considering the elimination of the Homestead Tax Deduction, which is a state deduction that can be up to $45,000.

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