Mayor Ballard vetoes $4.7 million public safety plan; council president blasts decision

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INDIANAPOLIS (April 10, 2015) – Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard vetoed a $4.7 million measure that would equip police officers and repair Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department facilities.

The plan would put more cruisers on the streets and update aging facilities.

"I'm a little surprised that it came forward. We  told a lot of councilors that I would veto it," said Mayor Ballard.

"It was never passed to me in any way shape or form that it would be vetoed," said John Barth, City-County Council Vice President.

The City-County Council passed the bill in a 24-4 vote on March 30. In a statement, Ballard said the measure represented “a complete departure” from a “commonsense budgeting approach.” He said it didn't meet any of the immediate needs of public safety.

"It's out of budget and no one has asked for it.  It has never come up with public safety leadership or from IMPD leadership," said Mayor Ballard.

The Mayor says one of the reasons he vetoed the plan was because the budget was just passed. Also, Mayor Ballard contends that there was very little communication between the administration and the council.

"My understanding is that our council staff has had consistent and ongoing communications with the administration.I'm surprised to hear that," said Barth.
Rick Snyder,  president of FOP lodge 86, says beyond shutting down the plan, the Mayor is sending the wrong message to the first responders of Indianapolis.

"The actions that were taken by the mayor today were without a doubt  a slap in the face to our officers and their families who are depending on decision makers to make the right decisions," said Snyder.

Indy's top cop says he is still trying to grasp the Mayor Ballard's decision.

"We'll have to review the rationale behind it but we have to look at this carefully and we know services are at a premium," said IMPD Chief Rick Hite.

Council President Maggie Lewis said the bill was bipartisan and called the veto “irresponsible.”

Here’s Ballard’s statement on the veto:

“For more than seven years, my administration has worked with the Council to steer Indianapolis through some extremely difficult financial times. Despite these challenges, we have found ways to cut spending and still provide excellent service to residents. Proposition 47 represents a complete departure from this commonsense budgeting approach, and, thus, I must veto it.

The 2015 budget was created only a few short months ago, with collaborative input from the Controller and Council staff. None of the items addressed in Proposal 47 were included in the budget, quite simply, because no one from the Department of Public Safety asked for any of these items. Council Democrats did not consult with DPS or the City Controller to determine priorities or fiscal impact. A brief meeting or even a phone call to either department would have allowed city staff to explain that plans are already in the works for a regional firing range, and investment in the current facility is not wise. Communication also would have let Council Democrats know that non-pursuit DPS vehicles are being replaced right now with electric vehicles – a move that will free up hundreds of patrol cars for the force. Much of the spending in Proposal 47 is based on discussions that excluded senior IMPD command staff and DPS leadership.

Furthermore, the proposal ignores our responsibility to pay back Fiscal Stability Fund dollars that were loaned to hire officers in 2014. We must and will pay back that loan this year. Ratings agencies are keenly aware of our obligation to replenish the Fiscal Stability Fund, and failure to meet our obligation will harm the city’s credit rating.

Proposal 47 is being touted as a support measure for public safety, but nothing in the proposal meets the most immediate needs of our public safety agencies or the fiscal health needs of the city. An appropriation that wasn’t budgeted and isn’t necessary is nothing more than an irresponsible waste of taxpayer dollars. Our taxpayers and public safety agencies deserve better.”

And here’s Lewis’ full response:

“I am deeply troubled by the Mayor’s sudden veto of the Council’s bi-partisan appropriation to adequately equip our police officers and make necessary repairs to IMPD facilities. I will immediately begin the preparations necessary to override this irresponsible veto. The Mayor’s veto sends exactly the wrong message to the men and women that patrol our streets and try their best to keep us all safe every day. It tells them that their work in our neighborhoods is not worth the price of having adequate vehicles or fully-functioning training facilities. This appropriation comes from available Public Safety Tax revenue that the Mayor and Council agreed to raise at the end of last year for purposes just such as these.”

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