Indy reaches deal for firefighters' raise; IMPD raise still uncertain

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The mayor's office and Indianapolis Professional Firefighters Local 416 have reached "an agreement in principle" over a two-year contract extension that includes pay raises for the Indianapolis Fire Department's 1,200 firefighters.

The agreement, obtained by Eyewitness News, calls for a three-percent across the board raise as of July 1st, followed by roughly $1,200 per firefighter in 2015 and $1,400 in 2016.

"I can't give you details, but I have talked to a lot of firefighters and they think it's very doable. It's better than nothing and once the city completes the language and we agree, we'll take it to the membership for a vote," said Local 416 President Mike Reeves.

Reeves did say IFD was able to find the money to provide raises in its 2014 budget by "becoming a little bit more leaner and tighter."

Marion County Sheriff John Layton, meantime, has also found money in his budget to provide retroactive raises for his deputies. Unlike IMPD officers, they did not receive three-percent raises in July. Layton has been negotiating and asking the City-County Council for an extra $535,000 to cover those raises for several months. Monday night, the sheriff will table that request.

"We've been asked by the council to find the money in our own budget and it didn't look as though we could but as the attrition rate continues and we project how it will continue to look with salaries, we will be able to cover it," said Lt. Colonel Louis Dezelan.

As a result, Dezelan said 660 deputies will get three-percent pay raises for the second half of 2013. He's not sure what the 2014 budget holds but said the sheriff has promised to match the rate of the Indianapolis Metro Police Department.

IMPD's current contract calls for three-percent raises, but the mayor's budget does not include the money to cover them. IMPD has also been asked to find the money, roughly $3 million, in its own budget.

Last year, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) agreed to a compromise, taking three-percent raises for just the second half of 2013.

FOP President Bill Owensby said there is still no movement on that and that "litigation is a very viable option."

UPDATE: The council says it supports expanding the police taxing district to raise money for public safety, but will not eliminate the local homestead tax credit.

From the City-County Council (press release):

The Indianapolis City-County Council majority today released details of its bipartisan, compromise budget for 2014. Mayor Greg Ballard's original proposed budget relied on raising property taxes and adding new fees.

"Adding new taxes and fees coupled with the impending Citizens Energy rate increase is not in the best interest of our residents. When the budget process began we agreed that protecting our residents from tax increases and increasing IMPD officers would be our key priorities. The budget we are proposing accomplishes both," said Council President Maggie Lewis.

The Council has agreed to support the Mayor's proposal to expand the IMPD Special Service District, so all of Marion County (except the excluded cities) share in the cost of police protection. This is an issue of fairness and adds $1.6 million to the IMPD budget.

"While we support the Mayor's proposal on several fronts, we disagree with the elimination of the Homestead Tax Credit. Eliminating the Homestead Tax Credit impacts our schools by causing large budget reductions - a total of 3.9 million across all the township schools. The Mayor's proposal does not address the hole he is putting in township schools' budgets," said Lewis.

The Council also supports the Mayor's proposal to utilize $7.5 million of Rebuild Indy dollars to add an additional 30 member IMPD class to the already planned 50 member class in 2014 as well as to keep his commitment to the contractually agreed to 3 percent raises for IMPD officers. "The Council has made it clear that we must act quickly to increase IMPD staffing shortfalls," said Public Safety Chair Mary Moriarty Adams.

Council members noted that Mayor Ballard's proposed 2014 budget submitted to the City-County Council is just that - a proposal. It is the job of the Council to ensure vital public safety needs are met, the budget is responsibly balanced and that Council members follow a simple golden rule: Don't ask more of taxpayers until every line item has been reviewed and not until we have exhausted every resource available to reduce costs and re-allocate funds. These methods range from reducing inter-departmental charge backs to tapping into unused and unallocated parking meter revenue while preserving the Mayor's requested parking meter project funding.

"I'm pleased that by including key aspects of the Mayor's proposal, focusing on protecting taxpayers, and making judicious cuts, we have found a middle path to a compromise budget," said Council Vice President John Barth, "President Lewis and I look forward to meeting with Mayor Ballard soon to complete the budget process and move into 2014."