City-County Council votes Monday on budget, including $15M Capital Improvement Board 'tax'

Revenue would pay for 30 fire, 50 police hires

INDIANAPOLIS - The City-County Council will vote Monday night on the nearly $1.1 billion city-county budget.

Friday afternoon, the Chamber of Commerce urged the council to reject the budget, saying one feature of the budget, a $15 million raid on the Capital Improvement Board, is irresponsible.

Democrats want to add 50 new police officers and 30 firefighters. To make that happen, they want to assess a $15 million charge called a "payment in lieu of taxes," or PILOT, on the Capital Improvement Board. 

That board operates Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium.

"They need to have adequate public safety coverage at their events, we need to have public safety across the county," said Brian Mahern, D-District 16. "We need to have their help and have them chip in… We are no more raiding (the CIB) funds than they are free loading on the city in regard to public safety."

"We are all remiss in thinking that the CIB is in the black. There are $50 million in loans that needs to be paid back to the state and funders of the Circle Center mall. Those are real issues that need to be taken care of. To try to take $15 million out right now is going to lead to a shortfall," said Chamber of Commerce Vice President Tammie Barney.

The mayor's proposed $1.1 billion budget does not fund any new police officers, but instead maintains the status quo. 

His chief of staff calls the $15 million tax illegal and says the council should adopt the mayor's plan.

"Take Marion County income tax dollars on police and fire for public safety, because this council failed to act and because they won't hold a hearing on the elimination of the homestead tax credit," said Ryan Vaughn, spokesman for Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. "The budget they are going to send to vote on Monday takes income tax dollars and spends it to reduce property tax dollars on some of the wealthiest people in the county."

Public comment will not be allowed at Monday's council meeting, but Vaughn encourages citizens to come in numbers, to make their presence felt.

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