Front and center in the IndyStar review of last night's vote of the Council, is this quote from Councillor Aaron Freeman:
"We have fewer officers than we should because we have been taking in less property taxes in this bad economy the last several years."He makes it sound like the Council and the Mayor have had less money to work with and that is why they didn't support funding recruit classes for IMPD these past few years, as the Council Democrats had continued to try to do.
Freeman either knows he is lying to the public, or he is just passing along the meme offered by Ryan Vaughn.
Yes the City-County takes in less property tax revenues than they did before the tax caps came into effect. They also have fewer bills to pay. This actually left the City-County with about $50 Million MORE to spend than they had before the tax caps. Add to that the increased revenue from Peterson's Public Safety Tax, and well - they had plenty of money to do any hiring they wanted.
But, they did not.
Even without the tax increase, the 2015 budget does fund a recruit class of 50. With the tax increase, they are looking at 40 additional.
So, its not true that "we have fewer officers than we should because we have been taking in less property taxes in this bad economy the last several years". We've had the money, just not the interest.
Suppose for a second that Freeman's statement were true - why would we need to raise income taxes when both property tax revenues and income tax revenues are climbing now that the economy has improved?
And if the Ballard Administration truly sees a need to increase the number of officers, why is Jason Dudich saying that only $4 M will go to IMPD's budget in 2015? The tax increase is expected to bring in $29 M. $2 M goes to the excluded cities and towns, by State mandated division of Public Safety Tax revenue. Likewise, $10 M will go to County functions - but no discussion as to how that money will be spent has been done in public. That leaves $13 M that Dudich wants to put into IMPD fund balance. This would be overruled in a heartbeat if Vaughn wanted the money to be spent by IMPD.
That's right folks - you get to pay more in taxes so that the biggest chunk can fatten the year end balance. And a whopping fourteen cents of every additional dollar will go to hiring more police officers. Fourteen cents.
One cannot ignore the fact that this tax hike comes just before the proposed Criminal Justice Center gets crammed through. Could be a coincidence.
So, we'll see if this Administration actually moves toward keeping interested in hiring more officers as the years go by, or if they'd rather spend this new money on something else.
Meanwhile, can we just stop all the lying?