With homicides rising for a third straight year, a City-County Council task force is recommending $29 million in tax hikes to increase the Indianapolis police force by nearly 300 officers.The IMPD Staffing Study Commission proposal would add 286 officers to the force by 2020 at a annual cost of about $100 in new taxes for most Marion County residents. The new revenue would increase the department's ranks to 1,813 officers, the most it's ever had.
"People don't feel safe in our community right now, the No. 1 priority should be put on hiring police officers," said Democratic Councilor Mary Moriarty Adams, chairwoman of the commission.
Half the new revenues would be provided by eliminating a homeowner tax break — a move originally proposed by Republican Mayor Greg Ballard that Democrats on the council have rejected three times.
The difference this time, said council chief financial officer Bart Brown, is that the homestead tax credit would be phased out over four years. Brown said a property owner with a $100,000 home ultimately would pay an extra $30 a year.
Another $15 million a year would be generated by slightly increasing the income taxes dedicated to public safety. A resident making $50,000 a year would pay about about $75 a year more.
Democratic Councilor John Barth said it was imperative that the council address the IMPD staffing shortage now, before the number of police offices and agency morale dip too low to be repaired. His constituents, he said, have indicated they'd be willing to pay for adequate police coverage. But the question going forward is: How much?
"No matter what, it is going to be hard when we talk about revenue enhancement (tax increases)," Barth said. "The next step is to stand up and say, 'We are willing to make the hard decisions.' "
The plan is intended as a blueprint for budget negotiations this summer, he said.
"Our hope is that this is pathway to get more police in the 2015 budget and beyond," Barth said. "We will be saying take this to the mayor's office and find out what's palpable for all of us."The story per standard operating procedure is devoid of any critical analysis and is nothing more than a press release for the lying politicians who we foolishly elect to represent us on the City-County Council. Don't even get me started on the local TV reporters, who amazingly can only find people who support raising taxes when they go out looking for interviews with local taxpayers. Everybody agrees that higher taxes is the answer. Everybody agrees that if we hire 200, 300, 400 or 500 more police officers, everything will be much better. Here are some suggested questions the lazy reporters in this town might want to check out if they consider themselves legitimate news reporters:
- What happened to the $90 million a year in new taxes for public safety in 2007 these lousy bums slapped us with that were supposed to hire all of those new police officers, particularly since the part of that tax set aside for paying unfunded pension liabilities for public safety employees was taken over by the state, saving the City $25 to $30 million annually? The public was promised the higher taxes would be used to hire 100 to 200 additional police officers to combat a rising crime problem, primarily the record number of homicides recorded in 2006 but not a single new officer was added, even with a federal COPs grant to fund 50 new police officer positions.
- The Mayor has repeatedly claimed that overall crime in the City has been down every year that's he's been mayor even though the number of police officers employed by IMPD has remained flat throughout his two terms in office. If crime is down overall despite the failure to hire more police officers, how will hiring more police officers reduce crime?
- The record number of homicides recorded in 2006 was followed by many years of declining homicide numbers to what the mayor described as historically low rates while the number of police officers remained flat. How will spending money to hire additional police officers reduce the homicide rate?
- What happened to the $9 million in savings that was supposed to come from the merger of IMPD and the Sheriff's Department?
- What impact did the decision of the mayor and council to divert as much as $120 million a year in property tax revenues to TIF slush funds to fund crony capitalism have on the supposed lack of funds for public safety now?
- What impact has the hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks the City-County Council has passed out to businesses over the past decade had on the supposed lack of funds for public safety now?
- Where will the city-county government's share of $97 million in property tax revenue windfalls from enforcement of the homestead exemption recently announced be spent?
- Isn't the controller's office low-balling future revenue growth, particularly as property values continue their rebound, to make the revenue outlook in future years look worse than it really is?
- Doesn't the controller say that this tax increase is only a stop-gap measure and that another tax increase will be required within four years to maintain higher staffing levels for IMPD?
- Why does the City continue to allow private security firms to use our police officers, police cruisers and other law enforcement equipment for no remuneration instead of imposing fees on them like most other major cities in America, leaving millions of dollars on the table annually?
- Why does this City refuse to collect fees for the added public safety costs caused by sporting and other special events like other cities do, leaving millions more dollars on the table annually?
- Why does the City refuse to collect fees from the large nonprofit organizations and universities that pay no taxes to support public safety like many other large cities, leaving even more millions of dollars on the table annually?
- Isn't the multi-year pay raises quietly promised by the Ballard administration to representatives of the FOP and the firefighters going to consume a significant part of the higher tax revenues earmarked for hiring more officers?
- Where will the money come from to pay the tens of millions in new annual budget outlays that the City will be required to pay if Mayor Ballard gets his way and a new criminal justice center is built next year that will be owned and operated by a private company?
- Does the City plan to sell the valuable real estate on which the current two jails are located for their fair market value? Or will that land be gifted to private real estate developers, along with other economic development incentives and tax breaks, to redevelop the land for the private developer's exclusive benefit?