Lawmakers eliminate at-large Indianapolis City-County Council seats

Seats would be cut in 2015

INDIANAPOLIS - Four people who hold at-large seats on Indianapolis' City-County Council will be looking for new offices in two years.

On the final day of the session, the Indiana Legislature eliminated those seats as part of a bill that Democrats contend is a Republican power grab.

The Marion County government bill also gives Mayor Greg Ballard significant new budget powers.

The House approved the measure on Thursday night, and the Senate passed it on Friday morning.

The seats that will be eliminated are all currently held by Democrats, and those seats provide the margin that gives Democrats control of the council.

Democrats said the move is purely political, with the purpose of giving control of the council to Republicans, something they didn't win from the voters.

Republicans contend the bill has the purpose of saving money, believing the city doesn't need so many councilors.

"People think it's a power grab, it's politics or whatever, and it's not," said Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis. "It's simply good public policy. In the United States, we are the third-largest council, behind only New York and Chicago, and no one else, none of the large cities, are even close to us."

Those who hold the at-large seats would keep them until the 2015 election, so the bill doesn't upset the current council balance.

Lawmakers are also expected to vote on a budget bill that cuts income tax by 5 percent, a bill to boost the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and a measure that would help the state's gaming facilities, among others.

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