Emergency meeting held over Public Safety budget shortfalls

The Public Safety Committee of City-County Council held an emergency meeting, Wednesday, to try to fix a police budget crisis.

Indianapolis

The Public Safety Committee of City-County Council held an emergency meeting, Wednesday, to try to fix a police budget crisis.

Marion County Sheriff John Layton said his department is facing a $16 million shortfall. Director of Public Safety Frank Straub said Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's spending is up to $10 million in the red.

"It's important to get a handle on our funding issues before the budget process begins for next year," said Council President Maggie Lewis.

Both Layton and Straub gave presentations explaining where their respective dollars are going.

Straub told reporters, his funds simply ran out.

"It's a series of, as the controller said, lack of funds coming in and expenditures. Combination of both," he said.

He originally predicted IMPD would be "turning off the lights and electricity probably by the end of the month." However, he told councilors, he'd made changes in when the department pays bills and now, the department will run out of money in June.

Layton blamed a large chunk of his debt on transporting arrestees and paying their medical bills. He told councilors Wishard Hospital used to provide services for free, but started billing the department in 2009.

"This is a huge problem for everyone. It's going to expand into the streets and it's going to expand into the neighborhoods, when you're $26 million dollars short this early in the year," said Layton.

He wanted the controller to pick up the tab.

"They're the ones that the state law says needs to be paying it. How the Sheriff ever got these bills sent to him in the first place, I don't know."

Both said they have already made cuts, but do not want to take drastic measures such as taking wagons or officers off the streets.

Councilors questioned the costs and necessity of dozens of resources used by the departments including two officers who provide security for Straub.

The problem is only expected to get worse. Next year, the City faces a budget shortfall estimated between $50-$70 million.

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