Monday, August 13, 2012

Ballard Budget Includes No Money For New Police & Fire Recruits

Mayor Greg Ballard rode a wave of taxpayer discontent in 2007 over rising property taxes and incumbent Mayor Bart Peterson's 65% increase in the local income tax. Peterson said the estimated $90 million a year in additional revenues from his tax increase was needed to fund public safety, and to fund the city's unfunded pension liability for police and firefighters. Peterson promised to hire 100 additional police officers with the new revenues.

After Ballard defeated Peterson based largely on his criticism of Peterson's tax increase and rising property taxes, he decided to leave the Peterson income tax increase intact, save for a fractional decrease in income tax rates that amounted to about a few million dollars a year in savings to taxpayers. He never used the additional revenues to hire the promised 100 police officers. He also didn't use any of the proceeds from the tax increase for the city's unfunded pension liability costs because the state picked up those costs as part of a new tax restructuring that included a cap on property taxes. The Ballard administration accepted a COPS grant from the federal government that was suppose to be used to hire 50 new police officers, but it never used the money for that purpose and may now have to return money to the federal government.

The FOP is sounding alarms that Ballard's proposed budget for next year includes no money to train a new class of police and firefighters, which ensures there will be fewer police and firefighters in the coming year. The number of police officers is already about 200 below what the city-county council budgeted in the current budget as a result of attrition from retirees and others leaving the ranks. The FOP thinks crime is on the rise because of fewer police officers patrolling the streets, a claim disputed by the Ballard administration. The administration points to numbers showing the homicide rate down about 15%, while the FOP points to other statistics showing violent crime is up 7.3% and all crime is up 5.8%.

Interim Police Chief Rick Hite tells the Star that Indianapolis residents are safe. "We are getting leaner and increasing productivity," Hite said. "We are facing the same budget challenges many other cities are, and we made adjustments anticipating those challenges." You may recall the controversy that erupted when Ballard named Hite as the interim chief when Paul Ciesielski was forced out over the ongoing mishandling of the Officer David Bisard investigation. Hite, you will recall, was ineligible to serve as police chief because he's not a certified police officer in Indiana. Some of his critics claim he never became a certified police officer for the Baltimore Police Department either where he was formerly employed and won't produce evidence of his certification in Maryland. Suffice it to say, police morale is low under the leadership of a mayor who promised that public safety would be job one.

For his part, Ballard is now downplaying the importance of the number of police officers, completely contradicting the position he took when he first ran for mayor in 2007. The administration claims it is reassigning police officers to the streets who were formerly performing administrative duties. "While the number of officers may be dwindling," Ballard Chief of Staff Ryan Vaughn said, "the number of officers we're putting on the street may not be dwindling." The FOP is skeptical of those claims.


Unknown said...

One thing you never see mentioned by the press is the huge amount of money for overtime for IFD every year.
Since they are short-handed, they pay overtime on a regular basis.

CircleCityScribe said...

One thing to remember from the book, "The Crime Numbers Game, Management by Manipulation": Straub said crime was down. We should not believe him! His crime numbers person quit, why? Was it because he refused to provide false numbers to the FBI? The book tells how some dirty officials like to manipulate crime stats, and should be required reading for anyone to understand the numbers!

Broad Ripple has gunfire on The Strip, the north side is terrorized by home invasions, and Ballard-Straub let police resources dwindle away to dangerous levels so nobody is there to protect us! Did you know that they made the area of policing bigger to account for less police officers and as one example, the same policeman who patrols Ravenswood, also patrols Geist???? Guess what the response time is to your emergency!

Thank you Ballard-Straub for making our city more dangerous!

CircleCityScribe said...

P. S. Where is the AUDIT of the Frank Straub Department of Public Safety????

-Wasn't it required by the Consolidation ordinance and currently ignored by The Mayor?

varangianguard said...

The mayor cannot recognize this as an issue. After all, he has all the police resources HE needs.