NewsPublic Affairs / April 8, 2019

Indy Council Approves Funding For Oaktree Demolition, With Questions About Extra Spending

Indy Council Approves Funding For Oaktree Demolition, With Questions About Extra Spending

Republican Minority Leader Michael McQuillen says he's disappointed his colleagues are comfortable spending so much money after a balanced budget was unanimously passed.

Drew Daudelin/WFYI

The Indianapolis City-County Council approved a proposal Monday night to use $2.2 million to demolish an abandoned, crime-ridden apartment complex on the far-east side.

The proposal to help tear down Oaktree Apartments sparked a long debate between councilors because it was paired with an unrelated item – more funds will be appropriated to buy vehicles for the Marion County’s Animal Care Services agency.

This prompted some Republican councilors to ask when the spending will stop, arguing that unplanned appropriations undercut the effort behind their fiscally responsible city budget. Republican Minority Leader Michael McQuillen says he’s disappointed his colleagues are comfortable spending so much money after a balanced budget was unanimously passed.

“Occasionally, emergencies arise. But $822,000 to buy shiny new vehicles for one of our departments is not one of those emergencies. This is a proposal that does not save lives, it doesn’t pave streets, it doesn’t do any of the things that are critical for our city,” McQuillen said.

Supporters say the agency is in desperate need for new vehicles. And to McQuillen's larger point, some councilors argued a fiscally responsible budget allows for this kind of extra support.

Democrat Blake Johnson says the council has extra money to spend because it made conservative estimates on its revenue.

“So if ‘Where does it stop?’ means I hope that we continue to have conservative predictions on our revenue, we’re going to keep having more revenue than we expect, then I’m perfectly comfortable with this cascading to more and more revenue coming in so we can do the things we need to do,” Johnson says.

The proposal passed with a vote of 13 - 11.

The city is still going through the process of acquiring the land where Oaktree Apartments sits. Councilor La Keisha Jackson, who represents the district, says their offer will go out within a week, and they expect an answer from its owner in the next 30 days.

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