Money has been stacking up in Mayor Steve Bach's first 10 months in office, and now he wants to spend nearly $3.2 million to fund capital needs for police and fire, and for four road projects.
"We're taking not quite half of the increased fund balance [from 2011] for these critical needs," Bach said at a meeting last week with Council. "I just offer that the sensible reason to have a fund balance is [for] when we have either emergencies or critical needs, particularly public savings requirements. So that's what this is about."
Swelled by extra revenues, decreased expenditures, and the freeing-up of money once tied to now-paid-off debt, the available fund balance at the end of 2011 was $38.6 million, more than 17 percent of the total budget. Though numbers are only available from sales made in January and February 2012, it would appear that city sales tax collections are exceeding expectations.
Based on that early data, the city budget office is cautiously predicting that 2012 sales and use tax revenues will bring in $4.9 million to $6.8 million more than expected.
At two early meetings, City Councilors appeared receptive to the mayor's plan.
"I can't see anything on this that any of us would oppose," Councilor Brandy Williams said at Monday's City Council meeting.
Councilors agreed to consider initial approval of the measures Tuesday (after the Indy's deadline), while stressing that they would not ordinarily be willing to pass such a plan on such short notice. Here's what's being looked at:
• $500,000 for fire apparatus for Fire Station 21, which will be built this summer to serve the northeast part of the city.
• $500,000 this year, plus another $1.3 million over future years, to pay for new breathing apparatus for firefighters. Fire Chief Rich Brown explains that equipment purchased in 1999 is reaching the end of its useful life. Newer equipment, he adds, can tell a firefighter how much air he or she has left, and track firefighters as they fight blazes inside buildings.
• $500,000 this year, plus another $1 million over future years, to replace approximately 50 police vehicles through a lease-purchase agreement. The vehicles exceed their replacement age or have too much mileage on them.
• $350,000 to replace or repair heating and ventilation systems at Falcon and Sand Creek police substations, and at the Police Training Academy. All systems are at least 25 years old, Police Chief Pete Carey explains, and temperatures within the buildings vary by 15 degrees because of inadequate circulation.
• $350,000 to replace the roof at the Police Operations Center, which is 19 years old, has been patched multiple times, and leaks. The building is developing mold and mildew due to the problem.
• $935,000 for the repaving of four streets that have been identified as having extremely poor pavement quality. They are: Voyager Parkway, north of Kettle Creek bridge to Interquest Parkway; Deerfield Hills Road from Springnite Drive to Drennan Road; Goddard Street from Kelly Johnson Boulevard to North Academy Boulevard; and Airport Road from Circle Drive to Chelton Road.
• $50,000 for the replacement of five city vehicles used in streets maintenance.