A few folks have asked me about these claims, given that I followed the budget so closely for the past few years. So, I slogged through the minutes etc from budget time, and I will recap what I can.
First, a few notes about the Criminal Justice Planning Council (CJPC) meeting. The Marion County Sheriff's budget issues was an agenda item. Sheriff John Layton talked about the same things he discussed back during the 2012 budget hearing (see the minutes from the September 7, 2011, Public Safety committee meeting) - unfunded mandates for Wishard services and the City-County building security contract with Securitec - amounting to a $12 - 15 million shortfall annually. In September, Sheriff Layton spoke also of the nearly $10 million owed to Corrections Corporation of America, who runs Jail II. These were due to ballooning costs for inmate medical care suddenly being charged by Wishard in 2010 and 2011, and not covered in the contract with CCA. This backlog was taken care of by Prop 2011, 365, which appropriated $9.9 million to be paid to CCA for the outstanding balance. In addition, a $1.5 million payment to the pension fund was fully addressed at budget time. Still the 2012 budget held unfunded mandates for Wishard charges, the Securitec contract, health insurance for employees, and contractual raises that would account for Layton's $12 - 15 million shortfall. Rather than waiting for a bailout that may not come at the end of the year, Layton is considering pulling his staff from Wishard and stop transporting those in jail to the Courts, saving overtime payments and better matching his resources and obligations.
Now, some of what went on at the meeting was pre-arranged and may very well be motivated by party politics. Nonetheless, Sheriff Layton's budget story has not changed, and he was up front back in September about all of this.
IMPD's budget may be different, however. At the CJPC meeting, it almost seemed that Dr. Straub was piping up with new information, so as to not be left out of any re-budgeting efforts. He said he might have to shut off the lights in some districts by the end of the month to compensate for an immediate hole of $10 million in character 3 appropriations. Now, character 3 covers 'other services and charges', as opposed to personnel costs. Straub did not give specifics other than saying the FOP wants new cars as half of the police cars have more than 100,000 miles on them. If you know me at all, you know I am unsympathetic about a perceived need for a 3 year vehicle replacement plan - especially when times are as tough as they are right now.
The 2012 budget for IMPD seemed to be 1% less than the 2011, but, as I noted at the time, previous budgets were supplemented at the end of the year, making the cuts more like 5% (see "IMPD Budgets Show 5% Cut"). As I noted at the time, this did not give me much heartburn since it appeared that the IMPD budgets were padded, as they never seemed to spend as much as they requested. Still, there was the upcoming Super Bowl, with IMPD costs of unknown magnitude (and still unknown), as well as a -$4 million placeholder that, to my knowledge, never was settled before the passage of the budget. These placeholders were insidious, and are the 'time bombs' I was referring to in my posts about the budget. These were the total amounts of cuts that each department or agency had to include in their budget. But, many kept the negative number in their budget, without specifying whether personnel would be cut or if contracts would be curtailed or some other allotment of the cuts would be structured. This left the questioning by Councillors quite impotent. They would review the adequacy of the items that appeared fully funded. And when attention was drawn to the large negative placeholder, there was no discussion about the realistic impacts on the budget items before them.
I did review the minutes of the September 21st meeting of the Public Safety committee, which was the hearing for IMPD's budget. At that time, Straub did mention, on questioning by Councillor Aaron Freeman (page 7 of the pdf), that there was a $3.3 million shortfall in character 3. The most jarring item, though, is found on page 11 of the pdf. The Council President, Ryan Vaughn is noted as saying
that IMPD has loaned over $32 million to the CIB on a contingency basis. In addition, Director Straub has gotten over 120 grants, but these grants are contracts, and some of them come with unfunded mandates of over $2 billion. He said public safety cannot be run on a contingent basis.That's real money in exceptional sums. There is a need to find out more about this topic, for sure.
The meeting of the Public Safety committee is this Wednesday at 5:30 pm. The CJPC voted to have a budget solution proposal for Public Safety by the time it meets in April. We will see what comes of all this, but we need to keep in mind that the City does not print money nor have the authority to raise taxes more than the State Legislature allows. A solution may be in the offing, as $10 to $20 million could be pried from fund balances this year. But, little fat, if any, is left for 2013, which is said to have a $50 - 70 million shortfall looming - and I can believe that. Structural changes to the City's budget may be needed soon, if not this year, as the fund balances are slim, the rainy day fund is gone, the consolidated downtown TIF can't be relied upon a 2nd time, and the stimulus funds are no longer being offered.
Options are limited. We shall see what comes of the attention being paid to the Sheriff's and IMPD's budgets.