Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Grant Rejection Leaves City Budget $1.7 Million Short

Here's a perfect example of why truth in budgeting is so important. The City of Indianapolis' 2010 budget includes $1.7 million to cover the cost of purchasing police cars for 50 new police officers, who are being funded by a federal grant, along with their uniforms, hand-held radios, training and pagers. The budget approved by the City-County Council anticipated that those extra costs associated with hiring new police officers would be covered by a grant from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. That grant has been rejected, and according to a FOX 59 News report, the City should have known that if it had conducted any due diligence before applying for the grant. FOX 59 News reports on the $1.7 million hole in the City's budget:

Fox59 News has learned IMPD has been rejected for a $1.7 million dollar grant to buy 50 new police cars. And, it appears more advance discussion with Indiana Criminal Justice Institute officials about restrictions for equipment would have let city leaders learn months ago they never had a chance to get grant money for cars.

"The equipment grants we give out are typically for $10,000 or less," said Neil Moore, executive director of the Justice Institute. "If you look at what we funded in the past you will see we don't fund cars for large police agencies."

IMPD was requesting $1.3 million for cars. The total request was $1.7 million dollars. The money is needed to match Federal money the city's taking to cover salaries for 50 new police officers in 2010. By taking the federal money the city has to guarantee it can buy equipment for the new police and cover their salaries after three years.

"We were a little surprised, we were counting on it," said Valerie Washington, CFO for public safety.

Grant papers obtained by Fox59 News say the city is in a current "tax crisis" and is 18 months behind in collecting taxes.

The city also asked for line items including $70,000 for 50 new police uniforms, $179,000 for 50 handheld radios, $140,00 for firearm training, $10,000 for training material, and $3,950 for 50 pagers for recruits. The entire grant was rejected about three weeks ago.

"Since then we've been working with the controller's office, the grant unit to find alternative funding sources," said Washington.

She also said the grant writers had consulted with someone at the ICJI about the requests for equipment. City officials say the federal grant description did cover allotments for cars. But Moore says local police agencies like IMPD know the Institute's history and rejection of funding for police cars.

"We only provide one or two cars for very small police departments in need," said Moore.
Discoveries like this will tell us whether the City-County Council actually approved a balanced budget for 2010 as advertised. The City claims it expects to have a $15 million surplus next year. I would point out that the 2007 65%, $90 million a year increase in the local income tax was supposed to include funding for 100 new police officers that had never been funded as promised earlier in his administration of then-Mayor Bart Peterson. Mayor Greg Ballard, simiilarly, didn't used those additional income tax revenues to fill 100 new positions. Instead, he is filling half of those positions using one-time federal grant money. How will we pay for those positions when the federal grant money is exhausted? We obviously don't even have the funding to purchase their police cars, uniforms, etc. This is why City-County Councilors should do a more thorough job scrutinizing the budgets presented to them and not simply rubber stamp what has been put in front of them by the Controller's Office.


Corruption in Indianapolis said...

Thats because the people running this city and IMPD are as corrupt as the ccc. Maybe when the city puts public safety ahead of the colts and trips all around the world..they be able to afford adding more police!

Monty Basking said...

Is it corruption, or is it mostly sheer incompetence? In the clip I saw on the channel 13 news, ICJI's Moore said the city never contacted them before submitting the grant application, and if they had, would've known in advance the grant would not be approved. Contacting a granting agency is pretty standard, especially when such large sums of money are involved.

Considering that according to the "Ballard Rules" public safety is job one, you would think he would put more competent people in charge. Even their excuse-making seems incompetent. Poor Renner just rambles. Hopefully they will replace him soon and put him out of his misery.

Concerned Taxpayer said...

I know that the woman who ran the Grants Office for years got $millions of dollars for IPD. She knew grants inside and out.
Did they get rid of her?

Blog Admin said...

I attended the meeting when Ballard proposed the budget, and he specifically talked about this point. When I questioned it on another blog, I was hit by talking point after talking point about how this is perfectly safe and blah blah blah done deal.

Maybe I'm just old fashioned (and I'm 23!), but I think that a city should be able to provide the basics (police/fire, K-12 education, public works such as roads, sewers, and maintaining current city parks) without a huge amount of federal assistance.

Even if this grant was approved (and it looks like it had no chance in hell), in 3 years the federal assistance will be gone. Where will the money come from then?

But by then, Ballard will be out of office, and is successor can use the "we inherited this mess" talking point!

patriot paul said...

Glaring example of counting your chickens before they hatch (and in this case came home to roost and laid an egg on the CCC. Sounds typical though. Flippantly committing taxpayer dollars on projects not thoroughly examined by each counsel member. Can we say ditto to building a stadium without figuring the operating costs? Deja Vu is a recurring theme.

Paul K. Ogden said...

IS said,

"Even if this grant was approved (and it looks like it had no chance in hell), in 3 years the federal assistance will be gone. Where will the money come from then?"

That's why taking grant money for things like additional officers doesn't make much sense. You eventually have to fund those positions outside of the regular income stream or make cuts.