Indy council OKs plan for $1.3 billion budget

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — From improving infrastructure to progress at city parks and a crackdown on crime, the 2022 Indianapolis budget aims to make the Circle City more well-rounded.

The mayor’s chief of staff, Taylor Schaffer, said Monday, “It’s comprised of four parts, including for rental assistance, $25 million for greenways and trails, a $400 million three-year program for American Rescue Plan, and then the 2022 operating budget, which really allows our departments to operationalize those programs.”

The budget is a three-year strategy that distributes the $419 million of the city’s federal American Rescue Plan cash to different departments. A total of $150 million is dedicated solely to public safety. The money will assist in everything from mental health programs to police technology.

The plan also includes funds to hire 100 police officers and 50 “peacemakers.”

During the meeting, councilors who spoke were optimistic for the future. La Keisha Jackson, a Democrat who represents part of the east side, said, “For the first time in this budget, I really can see the equity and inclusion down to the grassroots level.”

Councilor John Barth, a Democrat serving parts of the north and northwest sides, said, “In particular, I want to call out the $30 million that’s gonna go toward mental health. That’s a pretty significant and dramatic investment by the city, and I think it’s one that’s gonna pay dividends.”

However, for other councilors, following the money and monitoring its progress is top of mind.

Michael Paul Hart, a Republican serving parts of the east and southeast sides, said, “We have to make sure that we’re going to get out of our expenditureswhat we’re expecting. We are making a lot of big financial investments this year. A lot of things that we are from a nonprofit perspective, from a police perspective, but we have to keep a watchful eye on that, and I think that’s very important.”

Over the past several months, the Democrat mayor, Joe Hogsett, has said the plan won’t have an immediate impact on crime. At Monday’s City-County Council meeting, his chief of staff expressed hope for noticeable changes sooner rather than later. “What we hope to be able to do leverage these funds and these programs to do the most good as soon as we can.”

Hogsett was not available for interviews, but emailed a comment after the council’s vote that he found the “bipartisan cooperation” on the Democrat-majority council to be “remarkable.”