A political firestorm is brewing over next year's city budget. Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard signed the budget recently passed by the City-County Council—with one dramatic change.
Ballard announced Friday that he would invoke a line-item veto that would effectively cut $32 million from county agencies.
“We tried on multiple occasions to reach a compromise with the Council majority; however, they've decided to just spend money we don't have and not address the City's long-term financial needs. I will not support that."
To make up for the $35 million deficit, Ballard will veto three provisions: an allocation of nearly $32 million in County Option Income Tax (COIT) to the County General Fund, a fund that covers outside vendor contracts and the creation of the Police and Fire Recruiting Fund.
Fraternal Order of Police President Bill Owensby told Fox 59 News he was disappointed the city could not come up with a way to fund the proposed recruitment effort.
"I don't care what means they use. Something has to be done," Owensby told reporters during Friday's commencement for the newest IMPD recruit class - a group comprised of 16 new police officers.
"It's not even going to make a dent," said Owensby of the department's manpower shortage. "You really need a class or fifty or sixty every other year to make a dent."
The mayor said he would also send an “official communication” to the council regarding the recruitment fund's creation, which involved a plan to impose a PILOT on the Capital Improvement Board. Ballard denounced the move as “illegal,” saying that the council’s plan to take money from the CIB doesn’t “conform to state law.”
Council Democrats and elected county officials fired back at the Mayor's cuts, in a joint statement, saying:
"The Mayor's action today to divert nearly thirty-two million dollars from critical County government services represents the lowest level of 'my way or the highway politics.' It is reckless, irresponsible, and in fact unlawful for the Mayor to decide to cut critical services like prosecution of crimes, death investigations, court administration and child support."