With federal grants shrinking, Indianapolis and other cities are struggling to find new dollars to pay for fighting crime, reports the Indidnapolis Star. Mayor Bart Peterson is advocating state legislation to give local governments the power to impose new income, restaurant or sales taxes. The mayor needs new revenue sources to cover his proposal to earmark $85 million more next year to pay off the city’s public safety pension liability, pay for previously announced enhancements to the criminal justice system and cover the costs of yet-to-be-determined crime-prevention initiatives.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak added 113 police officers over two years, invested about $2 million in security cameras and other technology and created a juvenile crime unit. The city had to raise property taxes 8 percent in the 2006 and 2007 budgets to respond to rising crime. The city lost about $30 million per year in state assistance but was able to retire debt and add $7.5 million to the public safety budget after raising taxes. In Milwaukee, Mayor Tom Barrett launched a safe-streets program in December to reduce violent crime. The effort was developed with a $2.5 million “Project Safe Neighborhoods” grant from the U.S. Justice Department. Barrett increased the police budget over the past two years to its highest point in a decade. Some money came from cutting firefighting staff. Louisville raised the police budget to make up for drops in federal grants. Houston was able to pay for crime-fighting efforts thanks to growth in its population. That growth allowed the city to increase public safety spending by $114 million while slightly lowering its tax rate.