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Councillors approve funding for pre-K, hiring police; table Angie’s List

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – City County Council members had their hands full Monday night with the chance to decide the fate of early childhood education, the city’s police force, and a multi-million dollar company.

The first big item on the agenda was the proposal to hire 155 IMPD officers, an idea that every councillor approved. All 29 of them voted yes.

Hiring the officers will cost the city more $7 million.

The money will go into a special fund called the “IMPD Recruitment Fund.” Once money is put in there it cannot be removed. Those dollars are to be spent on hiring officers only.

Fraternal Order of Police President Rick Snyder was excited that all the councillors were on board.

“I think it’s important even on nights like tonight that we all step back and reflect and think about what it took to get us to this point, of setting these differences aside,” he said. “Unfortunately there have been a lot of folks who have been injured and hurt and our own department has even lost officers in this process while we’ve debated these issues. So I think we all have a full appreciation of what’s at stake here.

Two recruiting classes will begin this year. Snyder said it’ll be anywhere from 12-16 months before they are actually out on the streets patrolling.

When it came to funding pre-K, the proposal was approved 19-10. Spending on early education was one of Mayor Greg Ballard’s initiatives on fighting crime in the city.

Some councillors agreed doing so will help while others just felt investing in education was a good idea.

But clearly not all of them felt that way. Some said city dollars shouldn’t be spent on education, instead on fixing streets and sidewalks.

Others felt spending money on educating children might stop crime years down the road, but not tomorrow.

“If we pass this out tonight, are you gonna go, is anyone here in the chamber viewing tonight going to feel safer in their homes, walking to their cars, leaving the mall, leaving the grocery store,” questioned councillor Steven Clay, (D) District 11, who voted no.

Another councillor shared their opinions on the vote.

“I believe though more importantly this is a moral imperative. We must do this and we are doing this for the kids that need it the most, the low income kids,” said councilor Jeff Miller, (R) District 19, who voted yes.

The money will provide scholarships for more than 1000 children from ages three to four year children. The program will cost about $55 million over the next 5 years. The city will only be on the hook for $20 million of it. The rest would come from corporate sponsors and the state.

One item the council decided not to move on was funding Angie’s List. The company is requesting $18.5 million dollars to help expand its campus on the near east side as well as hire about 1,000 workers. Councillors decided for the second time to move the proposal back to committee for further discussion.