Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Indianapolis Public Safety Departments Facing 5% Budget Reductions

It's maddening listening to President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats warn of dire consequences that will occur if the federal government is forced to make a 2% budget cut after years of escalating federal spending that has outpaced the rate of inflation and as Americans' incomes have actually been falling, forcing them to cut their own family budgets to make ends meet. Here in Indianapolis Public Safety Director Troy Riggs sent an e-mail to all employees of the Department today informing them of the need to reduce this year's budget by 5% due to "the greatest economic downturn since the great depression" without the need of resorting to layoffs:
As you all know, our nation is in the midst of the greatest economic turn down since the great depression.  As a result, the local economies have suffered greatly.  While we live in a city that has weathered this storm better than most, it has still caused significant challenges.  During my tenure here, the Department of Public Safety leadership has worked hard to ensure that we are being fiscally responsible, while meeting the needs of our community.  In order to achieve this goal we are initiating over 30 efficiency teams this year, instituting administrative review processes, and developing business plans.  The goal of all these initiatives is for the Department of Public Safety to be as efficient and as effective as possible.
Due to the continued economic climate, the Mayor and Council have asked each agency within city/county government to develop an overview of budgets with a 5% decrease.  Before rumors become rampant, let me point out that this is a fiscal exercise to ensure that all departments are being fiscally responsible.  This process began yesterday with a review of my executive office, Animal Care and Control, and Homeland Security.  This morning at 9:30 a.m. a committee discussed the IMPD budget.  The discussions were open and operational concerns were addressed.
Let me assure you that there have been no decisions made at this time.  Information regarding items discussed will be shared with each division within the Department of Public Safety by your Chief or Director.   Your leadership has worked very hard identifying 5% reductions.  I want to assure you that all reductions were reviewed with the firm commitment that layoffs would not be recommended.
In conclusion, this is a difficult process that no one is enjoying.  I ask for you to feel free to send recommendations directly to your leadership or to me.   Additionally, please utilize the email to share concerns.   I do, however, need to be clear that this fiscal exercise is being done to protect the financial future of Indianapolis. 
Thank you,
It's obvious the administration is not only seeking budget cuts to deal with the Department of Public Safety's budget woes. As I recently reported, the Indianapolis Fire Department has implemented a blatantly illegal self-inspection program that compels all building owners and their lessees to voluntarily perform fire safety inspections of their premises by completing a more than 40-question affidavit under penalties of perjury and paying a $25 fee. Those who refuse to participate in the self-inspection program are told they will be subject to annual inspections costing them between $50 and $150. Conservative estimates are that this illegal self-inspection program, if enforced across-the-board, could raise several million dollars annually for the Fire Department. The Department has no authority under state law to delegate the responsibility of inspecting buildings for compliance with fire codes to building owners and lessees. Instead, the Department is relying on a recently enacted city council ordinance sponsored by Councilor Vernon Brown, a Fire Department battalion chief, that received very little discussion and left most councilors in the dark as to exactly what they were voting on.

Since I've first reported on the illegal self-inspection program, I've been contacted by numerous business owners and institutions inquiring about the notices they received from IFD. Everyone is wondering why the mainstream news media has not reported on it. I've been told by one business owner who contacted the Greater Indianpolis Chamber of Commerce, which apparently was caught flat-footed by the new self-inspection program, that the Mayor's office was upset how that program had been rolled out to the public. That business owner was assured by the a Chamber representative that the matter was being rectified, but other building owners and lessees who have called the Fire Department to inquire about the program have essentially been told to pay up and shut up.

Here's the video of the council debate (or lack thereof) on the passage of the self-inspection program for fire code compliance, which Councilor Mary Moriarty Adams says IFD claims will only raise a little over $636,000 annually in inspection fees to offset inspection costs--a flat out lie as the program is being implemented by IFD. Clearly the overly-broad application to include every single lessee, including those in one-room offices in multi-tenant buildings, will raise millions annually for IFD. The Department is trying to shift this burden to business owners because it simply doesn't enforce the state law by conducting inspections of buildings on any periodic basis with its current skeleton staff. Not a single council member asked a question or debated the proposal before voting on it. This is just another example of why this is the state's worst city council.

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CircleCityScribe said...

Does anyone remember the campaign line: "Public Safety is Job #1"???

-What did Ballard do? -He gave us Frank Straub! Now he won't explain where the money went. What about that Eastgate Public Safety Center for $18M????? -Not up to code? Who approved the contracts? What's being done to recover the taxPAYER losses?

-Frank Straub got himself a girlfriend, who he put on the public payroll as a "Director". What's wrong with that??? What were her qualifications?

-Frank Straub brought in Ellen Corcella (former Deputy DA in NY, where Frank was Deputy Police Commissioner)....what has she done????

-We now have the smallest police force in modern history, violent crime at our downtown mall is off the hook, and people are scared to go downtown on the weekends. Job #1???

Some explanation is in order, Mr. Mayor!

CircleCityScribe said...

Tax & Spend...

-Public safety is not now job #1, but a cash flow issue....

Flogger said...

I am sure the Pacers will still get their check, even though we have, "the greatest economic downturn since the great depression."

I was driving around the other night, the lane markers on many of streets are worn away to the point where you can hardly see them. The usual pot holes are there. Rarely do I see a Police Car. Must be all down town protecting the Mall.

I suppose if we had the Super Bowl coming to town again there would be plenty of money for Security, etc.