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New city-county budget: What you need to know

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The Indianapolis City-County Council unanimously passed the 2021 budget Oct. 13, ending a months-long process of department presentations and public input on what the city’s priorities should be going forward.

Councilors also voted to reshape the way Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department operates.

Here is what you need to know.

The 2021 city-county budget is $1.29 billion

For comparison, that’s about $78 million more than the 2020 budget, but the city also projects it will bring in about $114,000 more than it spends. This is the fourth straight year Mayor Joe Hogsett has boasted a “balanced budget.”

Because of the Indianapolis-Marion County consolidation, the budget includes both city and county departments.

IMPD gets a raise

The council approved about $261 million for IMPD, which is a $7.3 million increase from the 2020 budget.

No other part of the budget garnered as much scrutiny amid calls to cut back — or even eliminate altogether — police spending to free up more money for social programs. When IMPD officials presented the budget to the council’s Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee in September, the public comment period lasted two hours.

Many people showed up to the council’s meeting to voice their opposition to IMPD getting more money.

IMPD’s chunk of money makes up almost 30% of the city budget.

Civilians added to top IMPD board

Unrelated to the budget was a proposal to add civilians to police oversight, which passed 19-6 along party lines.

A new seven-member committee, called the General Orders Committee, will include four civilians and three representatives from law enforcement. The committee will replace the current General Orders Board, which has final say when it comes to department policy and doesn’t have civilians.

• RELATED: The boards that shape and oversee IMPD

The mayor and City-County Council president will each appoint two civilians to the new committee.

Councilors approved amendments that prevent people with a felony record from serving on the committee, and the chief must give an opinion on any proposed amendment to the department’s general orders or suggest alternative action.

Civilian members and their immediately family also can’t have an active lawsuit or complaint against IMPD.

Infrastructure gets a boost

The 2021 budget includes $158 million for bridge, road and sidewalk infrastructure projects as part of a four-year, $500 million plan.

The Department of Public Works as a whole is one of the city’s largest city departments at almost $889 million, which is about 20% of the money going to city agencies.

Full effects from COVID-19 aren’t here yet

If you’re wondering how the mayor’s office can project an increase in revenue during a pandemic that has brought an economic downturn with it, it’s because of timing.

Decreases in income and property taxes won’t reach city coffers until 2022.

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

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