By Rachel Fradette | Indianapolis Star
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said during a presentation late Monday that his $1.4 billion 2023 city budget earmarks more than $300 million for public safety, a record high for the Circle City.
The budget, up by nearly $100 million over this year, also includes focuses on capital projects for the Department of Public Works in addition to a new education initiative.
“I am submitting a budget package tonight,” Hogsett said during a City-County Council meeting Monday, “that will continue to invest in the men and the women of IMPD.”
This budget cycle marks a continuation of a 3-year city plan to use federal American Rescue Plan dollars for programs like an anti-violence campaign and various community initiatives.
The City-County Council will review and likely revise the budget before voting on it in October.
Here are some highlights from the proposed budget:
22% of budget is for IMPD
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department accounts for 22% of spending in the 2023 budget, totaling a budget of about $313 million, $266 million of which is the department’s city-funded general fund and about $29 million that’s set aside for the police pension fund.
In this budget, Hogsett said IMPD’s starting salary for first-year officer increased by 16% to $61,829, with a signing bonus for new officers of $10,000. There’s about $200,000 for marketing and branding for recruitment in this budget year.
The department also is authorized to hire up to 1,843 sworn officers, while expanding the non-sworn public safety unit and Peacemakers program.
The Indianapolis Fire Department’s funding will be set at $195 million, taking up about 14% of the city’s budget.
Budget bumps for the city prosecutor’s office, public defenders and the Marion County Coroner’s office budget are also reflected in the budget.
The budget also allocates $2 million for a 24-hour clinician-led emergency response team that will provide services by teams of behavior health clinicians and peer teams to respond to a mental health crisis.
“This group of trained health care providers will respond to cases in which residents face non-violent mental health or substance-abuse episodes,” Hogsett said.
He thanked the Black Church Coalition of Faith in Indiana and other advocates for pushing for the investment.
The city’s crime prevention grant program will jump from $3 million to $15 million annually.
South Emerson Avenue, Post Road improvements coming
The Department of Public Works’ 5-year capital plan, priced at $1.16 billion, includes a share of transportation and stormwater drainage.
The $849 million transportation budget has more than $25 million going to residential street improvements. Notable road projects include South Emerson Avenue, Post Road on the east side and Kentucky Avenue on the southwest side, Hogsett said.
The Keystone Avenue bridge over the White River on the north side is also funded.
Property tax relief for some homeowners
Citing rising inflation and additional cost burdens on the city’s taxpayers, Hogsett said there will be no new local tax increases in this budget year.
A majority of the city’s revenue is made up of property taxes. Higher property assessed values often result in higher property taxes for homeowners but more revenue in the pot for the city.
Assessed property values in Marion County are on the rise, with the average homestead – or single family, owner-occupied residential property’s – assessed value jumping 18% from 2023 over 2022.
For those who claim a homestead in Marion County, $27 million is being set aside for property tax relief, which will impact nearly 90% of homeowners, Hogsett said.
For properties with an assessed value up to $250,000, homeowners will be awarded a tax credit of $150 on their next property tax bill. Homeowners whose properties have assessed values of $250,000 to $400,000 will receive a $100 tax credit.
Homeowners whose properties’ assessed values are greater than $400,000 will receive no tax credit.
As statewide testing results show Marion County students improving, gaps still remain from the pandemic.
Circle City Readers program, a new literacy initiative, will partner with community organizations to provide tutoring in science-based reading to Marion County students in kindergarten to third grade.
The program will serve more than 1,000 students through a $1 million investment by the city.
In 2023, the Indy Achieves Completion grant program will also gain an additional $500,000 to supply 200 more grants for Marion County students to re-enroll by covering an outstanding bill at Ivy Tech Community College or IUPUI.
This year, about 500 students are receiving grants through the program.
“That means hundreds of residents across every township are using completion grants to go back to school to earn degrees,” Hogsett said.
Rachel Fradette is a general assignment reporter at IndyStar. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @Rachel_Fradette.