Council committee votes 6-4 on proposal to hike public safety tax

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By: Liz Gelardi

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The city of Indianapolis is one step closer to raising the public safety tax. A council committee voted Wednesday to raise the public safety tax from 0.35 percent to 0.50 percent. The proposal still has to go before the full City-County Council.  That is expected to happen some time in September.

The vote took place during a meeting of the Public Safety Criminal Justice Committee. It narrowly passed with a 6-4 vote.

The proposed tax hike is part of Mayor Greg Ballard's public safety plan. The mayor said the extra revenue would pay for 280 new police officers by the year 2018. According to the mayor's office, someone making $42,603 a year would end up paying $5.32 per month for police protection.

The local Fraternal Order of Police would like to see 500 officers hired over the next five years. FOP President Bill Owensby calls the vote a victory and he wants citizens to know their dollars will be put to good use.

"Well I can assure them that if it's used to hire law enforcement it will be absolutely well spent because we've gone through really a drought in terms of law enforcement officers here in Marion County and we need to get back to proactive policing and we will be absolutely unable to do that unless we get a manpower increase," said Owensby.

Mayor Greg Ballard issued the following statement about the vote:

“Tonight’s vote by the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee marks a good first step, but provides $2.5 million less for IMPD than my plan originally proposed and fails to address the root causes of crime.  It is my hope that Councillors in the next few weeks will join leaders across the city in supporting our plan to make high-quality pre-K affordable to children from low-income families in Indy.”

The council is up against a tight deadline. In order for the tax increase to go into effect the tax increase must pass by mid-September. If the tax hike passes, council members will also have to tack on an amendment to the budget.

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