Mayor Ballard to present vision for 2016 budget Monday night

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (August 17, 2015) – Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard will present his vision for the 2016 budget to the City-County Council Monday night.

Jason Dudich, Mayor Ballard’s Chief of Staff, says the mayor will present a one billion dollar overall budget for his final year in office, with 60% of that money dedicated to public safety.

“After that, what will typically happen is an 8-week process, where various committees of the City-County Council will have agencies and department heads come in and explain their budget,” said Dudich.

And then in September, you’re invited to give your opinion on Mayor Ballard’s ideas at a public meeting.

“This is a process,” said Dudich. “We negotiate the needs of the council and the needs of the mayor and the needs of the tax payer and we really do want public engagement and public input in this because it is their money, it is their dollars, and we want them to understand where it’s going, how it’s being spent, and where the priority should be. It is a large budget. It is a very complex budget. It’s not very easy to just sit down and look through a couple pages and understand it, so let us go through the process, be a part of that process, and be civically engaged if you can.”

A recent police shooting in Indianapolis has sparked renewed calls for police body cameras.

A 15-year-old accused of carjacking a man and ramming a police squad car was killed by IMPD officers last week.

The mayor’s budget proposal includes $200,000 for body cameras. But it would cost $2-3 million to outfit all 900 officers with them. The mayor hopes grant money will cover the cost.

During a recent test run, 65 IMPD officers wore body cameras.

The department doesn’t use dash cameras and there’s no plan to change that.

The issue isn’t unique to the IMPD. Less than 20 percent of all state troopers have dash cameras in their cars.

Members of the City-County Council already disagree on the body cam proposal.

“This deal is going to be a go in my estimation whether we get the federal grant money or not,” said Jefferson Shreve, (R) City County Council District 23. “It’s a matter of prioritizing that budget. Public safety is the biggest part of our budget, so the dollars are big but so is the need.”

Joseph Simpson, (D) City County Council District 9, says, “Where do body cameras fit in the priorities? Do we have money for it? Because right now hiring more police officers and buying more cars is going to be a little difficult. I would say body cameras is not high on the priority list for Indianapolis. We want more police officers. We want them to be in better cars.”

Dudich describes the budget proposal as a “maintenance budget.”

“Because this is Mayor Ballard’s last year in office, we want to set up the budget so when the next council and the next administration come in, there’s nothing there that would pin them or box them in. It fulfills our contractual obligations. We have contracts with unions that we have to abide by as well as contracts for escalator payments, for services, leases, and things like that. It pays all of our debts, so we continue to pay the debt that we owe for our outstanding bonds.”

It continues to fund the Pre-K program and also funds an additional 70 police officers.

“Beyond that pretty much everything is normal. Our parks department, our public works department as well, it’s typical business as usual for them as they work on services and programs within parks and then infrastructure improvements throughout the city. Because it’s a maintenance budget, we’re only addressing increases that are contractual or mandatory. Obviously there is going to be some pressure on everyone’s budget as they try to find ways to do more with less.”

Dudich says the mayor will also talk about Vision Fleet.

“We have put in the budget for next year funding for all of vision fleet as it stands today, so we are funding that program. If things change between now and the start of next year then the next administration and the next council will have to deal with that. For Blue Indy, the city’s commitment is $6 million over 6 years and so in next year’s budget we will have money appropriated to address the infrastructure improvements related to Blue Indy, but that is a very small portion of the $41 million investment that Blue Indy is making in the city.”

“Just understand that over the 8-week period there will be a lot of discussion about where money should be spent, but remember we have very limited resources. People would like to have us spend a lot of money, but we don’t have a lot of money available to us, so we really have to balance the needs of the taxpayers and the needs of the citizens with the resources that we have.”

The City-County Council will have a final vote on the overall budget in mid-October.

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