Mayor wants residents to "Live Indy"

Mayor Greg Ballard delivered his State of the City address Thursday at UIndy.
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Mayor Greg Ballard wants people to "Live Indy." It was the theme of his seventh State of the City address, which he delivered at the University of Indianapolis Thursday night.

"Those two simple words will drive all of our long-term decisions. Will an action make Indy a more attractive place to live or do business? Will it help us retain a person, a family or a business that already calls this great city home?" Ballard said. 

"In the era of property tax caps and current state taxing policy, the future of our city will be determined by our ability to attract and retain residents."

He said expanding the tax base was the only way "to maintain and add to city services like police, fire, infrastructure, parks and neighborhood improvements."

But he also said public safety was crucial, too, along with increasing access to early childhood education programs.

He talked about the need to grow the police force and again pushed to eliminate the local homestead credit. He said doing so would help the city add another 100 officers.

Another issue he returned to was refunding Rebuild Indy 2. Ballard pledged to hold several town meetings over the next several months to push the initiative. It calls for spending up to $350 million on streets, sidewalks, parks and bridges.

"Rebuild Indy 2 will allow us to build sidewalks to keep children safe. It will allow us to resurface every road in the city that needs it most," he said.

Democrats have opposed the funding plan. Council president Maggie Lewis said she's "concerned about the costs and taking on a 30-year loan."

As for the Live Indy theme, Democratic Councilor John Barth said he liked "celebrating the city," but he had concerns about who the initiative targeted.

"Indianapolis is a great city and I truly believe we will bring more people to the city," Barth said. "But we need to be cautious we're not spending all our time and money on one ZIP code. We need to make improvements in every ZIP code."

The mayor also talked about the need for more signature buildings.

"Simply put, Indy must raise its game," he said noting the new transit center planned for downtown "fits that mold."

New images released Thursday night show a sleek, contemporary design. The transit hub will be built along Washington Street across from the City-County Building.

The $19.5 million hub will be paid for with $13.5 million in federal grants and $6 million from IndyGo.

Construction is scheduled to begin in the fall with completion late next year.