NewsPublic AffairsGovernment / April 16, 2014

Staffing Commission Outlines Cost of Hiring Officers

Sam Klemet
Staffing Commission Outlines Cost of Hiring Officers

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Staffing Commission is recommending the city hire 500 officers by 2020.

To pay for them, residents are likely going to have to pay more in taxes and fees.

The commission wants to hire 100 officers each of the next five years.  Coupled with attrition, that would mean about 350 more on the streets by 2020.

If the city doesn’t raises taxes and fees, Chief Financial Officer Bart Brown says, Indianapolis can only add a net gain of eight new officers a year.

"We don't have any new revenues that are coming in, so if you are going to increase the headcount by 350, you are going to have to find about $40-$45 million new dollars in fees and tax increases," said Brown.  "There is nothing that exists in our tool box of revenues, without any type of fee increases or tax increases, to generate enough money to pay for those officers."

The Public Safety Tax is currently at .35 percent.  The county can raise it to 0.5.  Brown says for a household with a $50,000 income that will mean an increase of $100 a year or less.

He says it looks like hiring the new officers will have to come through new fees and taxes, but says the city could dip into the Rainy Day fund or the $73 million Fiscal Stability Fund, which was used to hire 80 new officers this year.

Brown also recommends the city ask the state to allow it to increase the commuter tax and sales tax to help pay for the hires.

"The commuter tax could generate up to $25 million, depending on maybe if you capped it at 0.25 percent," said Brown. "The sales tax could generate $25-$30 million, depending on what you tax, if you tax on everything or if you tax just on entertainment and things like that. They are very significant."

He says the problem with going to the state is that approval will take years.

Brown also says it will be "impossible" to hire 500 officers without eliminating the local homestead tax credit.

The commission will take the financing options and turn them into a final recommendation at its final meeting April 28.