By Abriana Herron | Indianapolis Recorder
Mayor Joe Hogsett presented his proposed 2023 city-county budget to the Indianapolis City-County Council during its meeting Aug. 8.
Totaling around $1.4 billion, the mayor said his proposed budget reflects some of Indianapolis’ most pressing concerns and top priorities — public safety, infrastructure, homeowner tax relief and education.
“In the midst of these historic challenges, we’ve worked hard to keep our eyes on what matters most,” Hogsett said. “Fighting gun violence, rebuilding our streets and roads, growing our local economy and improving student achievement.”
More than $300 million would be invested in public safety, which includes salary bonuses for experienced and first-year Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers, as well as a $10,000 hiring bonus. The increased salary and hiring bonus serve as incentives to recruit more officers as IMPD has 200 unfilled positions currently.
About $266 million is earmarked for IMPD’s general fund, with another $29 million for pensions. IMPD’s total proposed allotment of $313 million represents 22% of the whole city-county budget. It’s also about 15% more than IMPD received in the 2022 budget.
Close to $400 million would go toward infrastructure improvements for streets, residential roads, bridges and stormwater systems. This is a part of $1.1 billion in spending for the next five years to enhance infrastructure.
The proposed budget would also fund $2 million for a new mental health response team entirely made up of clinical professionals. The trained health care clinicians will respond to nonviolent mental health or substance abuse episodes.
The mayor has worked with Faith in Indiana to create this public safety initiative and plans to launch it in early 2023. Josh Riddick, an organizer with Faith in Indiana, believes the pilot will be an “invaluable resource” to Black and brown communities.
“The clinician-led team is the first step in building a system that can keep people safe and offer help, not handcuffs,” Riddick said in a statement. “While this first step is excellent, we see an opportunity to continue to take steps toward building a safer community through additional alternatives to a traditional law enforcement response.”
A property tax package is another investment Hogsett highlighted in the budget. He said this would give most Indianapolis homeowners a $100 to $150 tax credit to help navigate market increases.
There would also be more investments in a higher education grant program and an elementary literacy program. Indy Achieves Completion Grants would receive a $500,000 increase for program expansion, allowing for 200 more grants to be awarded every school year. The new Circle City Readers Program would receive a $1 million investment to serve 1,000 students.
The council will start budget hearings Aug. 9, and the council will vote on the budget in October. Find the full hearings schedule here.
“My colleagues and I will not only continue to focus on fiscal and policy decisions that strengthen and benefit our communities, but we are committed to funding and supporting programs that address the disparities in our city,” Vop Osili, city-county council president, said in a statement.
There is no additional funding for rental assistance in the budget, but there is money to provide tenants with legal services.
Budget increases in the Marion County Coroner’s Office, sheriff’s department and Indianapolis Fire Department are outlined in the proposed spending as well.
“For nearly three years now, despite the hard days and the long nights, we’ve kept our collective faith in each other, and we never lost the belief that tomorrow will be better,” Hogsett said. “I leave you tonight by saying, ‘Let’s get back to work.’”
Contact religion reporter Abriana Herron at 317-924-5243. Follow her on Twitter @Abri_onyai. Herron is a Report for America corps member and writes about the role of Black churches in the community.