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Mayor Ballard’s 2016 budget includes funding for new police officers and body cams

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (August 17, 2015) - Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard will present his vision for the 2016 budget to the City-County Council Monday night.

Jason Dudich, Mayor Ballard's Chief of Staff, says the mayor will present a one billion dollar overall budget for his final year in office, with 60% of that money dedicated to public safety.

"After that, what will typically happen is an 8-week process, where various committees of the City-County Council will have agencies and department heads come in and explain their budget," said Dudich.

And then in September, you're invited to give your opinion on Mayor Ballard's ideas at a public meeting.

"This is a process," said Dudich. "We negotiate the needs of the council and the needs of the mayor and the needs of the tax payer and we really do want public engagement and public input in this because it is their money, it is their dollars, and we want them to understand where it’s going, how it’s being spent, and where the priority should be. It is a large budget. It is a very complex budget. It’s not very easy to just sit down and look through a couple pages and understand it, so let us go through the process, be a part of that process, and be civically engaged if you can."

A recent police shooting in Indianapolis has sparked renewed calls for police body cameras.

A 15-year-old accused of carjacking a man and ramming a police squad car was killed by IMPD officers last week.

The mayor's budget proposal includes $200,000 for body cameras. But it would cost $2-3 million to outfit all 900 officers with them. The mayor hopes grant money will cover the cost.

During a recent test run, 65 IMPD officers wore body cameras.

The department doesn't use dash cameras and there’s no plan to change that.

The issue isn't unique to the IMPD. Less than 20 percent of all state troopers have dash cameras in their cars.

Members of the City-County Council already disagree on the body cam proposal.

"This deal is going to be a go in my estimation whether we get the federal grant money or not," said Jefferson Shreve, (R) City County Council District 23. "It's a matter of prioritizing that budget. Public safety is the biggest part of our budget, so the dollars are big but so is the need."

Joseph Simpson, (D) City County Council District 9, says, "Where do body cameras fit in the priorities? Do we have money for it? Because right now hiring more police officers and buying more cars is going to be a little difficult. I would say body cameras is not high on the priority list for Indianapolis. We want more police officers. We want them to be in better cars."

Mayor Ballard says his priorities haven't changed although money is tight.

"As this will be the last budget I present to you I am proposing a flexible maintenance budget that funds essential services, continues investment in early childhood education, supportspublic safety, and funds critical infrastructure," said Mayor Ballard.

It continues to fund the Pre-K program and also funds an additional 70 police officers.

Councilman William Oliver says he would have like to see the budget include funding for issues that impact his constituents and many people across the city.

"I was disappointed that he did not mention how he wish to correct the rise in poverty in our community, unemployment, the abandoned homes," said William Oliver,  (D) City County Council District 10.

City Council President, Maggie Lewis says she thinks it's fair that the budget remains flat in most areas and says the next mayor and council will determine if other areas need additional funds. But for now it's time to take a look at Mayor Ballard's budget and see how it aligns with the council.

"It sounds like public safety is still going to be a priority. We will take the next couple of weeks to dive in deeper into the budget and see what's there and what's missing and start the debate," said Maggie Lewis, (D) City County Council District 7.

Council committees will spend the next eight weeks going over the budget before they come to a vote.

The City-County Council will have a final vote on the overall budget in mid-October.