INDIANAPOLIS — Emerging from the financial instability of the COVID-19 pandemic into the uncertainty of a potential recession, the proposed 2023 municipal budget for the City of Indianapolis will top out at approximately $1.4 billion, up $100 million from this year’s budget.
Mayor Joe Hogsett’s spending plan for next year will be introduced to the City-County Council Monday night.
“There will be a significant infrastructure portion, increase in infrastructure funding, as well as the additional public safety funding,” the mayor said in an exclusive budget preview interview Sunday afternoon. “For the sixth consecutive year, it will be fully balanced, it will be fully funded and we might even ask the council to consider some tax relief.”
Public safety and the pursuit of justice in Marion County courts will once again account for a majority of the mayor’s proposed budget, Hogsett said. Indy’s police department’s anticipated spending will grow to $313 million, with $266 million coming from the city’s general fund, an all-time increase, according to Hogsett.
“It will be, as a matter of Indianapolis history, a record public safety commitment,” said Hogsett. “What I’m saying is historic is when you take what probably will be the largest budget allocation in regular budgeting terms, but when you add in the additional dollars from American Rescue Plan, we are dedicating a historic level of money to public safety generally.”
Last year, ARPA funds added $33 million to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s budget to pay for technology upgrades.
Hogsett said the city intends to make policing in Indianapolis more attractive to both recruits and veterans already on the job in order to fulfill his commitment to putting more officers on the streets.
“We’re gonna be increasing incentive pay, we’re gonna be increasing first-year officers’ compensation, we’re going to be helping IMPD out so that every officer has a greater length of time which to enjoy their pension at retirement,” he said. “We’re trying to get officers to stay on longer and obviously fill those fully funded 1847 slots that we currently have and there’s about 200 vacancies.”
Other agencies charged with protecting the county and delivering justice will also see funding hikes.
The Sheriffs’ budget will grow seven percent to $58 million and the Indianapolis Fire Department’s allocation will increase to $195 million.
The Prosecutor, Public Defender and Superior Court budgets will all climb at least $3 million dollars to more than $30 million apiece, while the Office of Public Health and Safety’s budget will grow 33% to more than $21 million, the spending boosted by federal funds.
The Coroner, which has struggled to keep up with Marion County’s escalating death rate due to COVID, increasing homicides and fatal drug overdoses, will see its budget almost double to more than $10 million.
The Department of Public Works budget will grow to $212 million to upgrade Marion County streets, bridges and sidewalks while the mayor said more money will be borrowed to rebuild Indy Parks and public facilities.
One budget that will see a sharp decline will be the city’s rental assistance program which was boosted by two years of congressional COVID relief funding which has expired.
“Everybody understood that at some point in time hopefully, the economy would rebound, COVID would be under control and people would be able to go back to work. I’m not saying there won’t be some adjustments needed but they’ll probably be in the area of rental assistance and the like,” said Hogsett. “I think it’s fair to say that while COVID is not behind us, while the ravages of the pandemic still plague too many people, not just in Indianapolis but throughout the country, but I can tell you that I think tomorrow night the people of Indianapolis will have a very definite sense that Indianapolis is building back.”
Council approval of the budget is expected by mid-October.