Mayor’s Pre-K plan hits funding snag, members of public kept from speaking

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By Jill Glavan

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (September 16, 2014) -- The fight over how to fix the city's crime rate and how to pay for it hit a snag Tuesday, with a meeting that ended in argument.

A council committee waited until three hours into their meeting to table the homestead tax credit elimination. Some members of the public had waited through all three hours, only to be kept from public comment.

"You could've announced that you weren't going to hear it tonight," one member of the public said.

It was only half of what was a tale of two meetings, with Mayor Greg Ballard holding a Town Hall on crime. He and his office touted his plan to put more kids in Pre-K and pay for more police officers, despite his original plan to pay for much of that with the homestead elimination.

"The reason we are so focused on early childhood education is because it’s proven to have significant academic benefits for children," Deputy Mayor for Education Jason Kloth said.

"The fact is, we have to change the mix and look at this more holistically and look at this all the way from PreK to ex-offender and that’s really what we’re trying to do," Mayor Ballard said.

The council's move though, coupled with a Monday deadline they would need to meet to eliminate homestead, effectively means the city will need to find a different way to pay for Pre-K and for about $2.5 million that would've gone to hire new officers.

Democratic Councilor John Barth has said he's working on an alternative but there is no timeline for its release.

"We have talked to (Democrats) quite a bit and given them things that we’re thinking about but they haven’t come back to us yet," Ballard said.

Meaning as of now, it's a waiting game to come up with alternative. Ballard and his office said they don't view his plan as over yet.

Last week, councilors did vote to increase the public safety tax and pay for more than 200 new officers by 2018.