INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Mayor Greg Ballard has come to expect one thing at this time of year.
"It’s never been a pretty experience – heading into budget season – since I’ve been Mayor," he said.
On Monday, he’ll present his budget proposal to the Indianapolis City-County Council. And, filling a financial hole has been part of this tradition. This year’s shortfall is estimated to be in the $55 million range.
Ballard told 24-Hour News 8 his team is trying to close that gap.
“I think people know I’m pretty serious about making sure that we don’t fall off the AAA ratings, that we do not have a deficit and go into debt," he said.
Ballard said that’s why the city is trying to "expand the tax base as much as possible. Like the Market Square project where we should bring about a half a million dollars of income tax in the future. Free and clear of everything else.”
He said his administration wants to create revenue streams that give the city “money into the future.”
Council Democrats are eager to see what the Mayor has in mind for 2014.
“We don't actually know the priority of the Mayor, yet,” said Council Vice President John Barth.
He and the Mayor’s Office remember the budget battle of 2012. Democrats control the council, and, last year, Ballard vetoed portions of the spending plan they approved.
“One of our primary goals this year,” Barth said, “is to have bi-partisan cooperation and teamwork and we're hopeful we can have a partnership with the mayor and get a budget through without any trauma.”
Barth and council President Maggie Lewis released their spending priorities for 2014.
They said the council’s focus would be on public safety, neighborhoods, and education. They’ll see more money for police and parks, libraries and schools.
The Mayor will only make his presentation on Monday night. The council’s vote will come at a later date.
CHARTER SCHOOLS DISCUSSION
The council will also study the development of charter schools in Indianapolis.
Thursday night, Councillor Barth led a committee hearing on the approval process for charters.
“Right now, nine authorizers can put charters in Indianapolis with very little to no public input,” he said.
The discussion is part of the Democrats’ budget proposal.
“We just want to make sure, when new schools are authorized, there’s a robust process of interactivity with the neighborhoods. So, we’re just exploring options to how we can do more from the council level," he said.
Employees at some Indianapolis fast food restaurants will take part in a 100-city strike Thursday morning.
The Muncie School Board's decision to close one of the city's two high schools has some students looking to enroll elsewhere.
Crews in Indianapolis and around Central Indiana are gearing up for this upcoming winter weather event.