The Greenwood City Council could approve a nearly $64.7 million proposed budget for next year.
Monday night marked the second night of the city’s budget presentations, which is when city officials introduce the next year’s proposed budget to city council members and the public. The majority of 2024’s nearly $64.7 million budget — about $62.8 million — is the city’s operating budget, with the remainder being for capital projects.
To prepare next year’s budget, Mayor Mark Myers, city controller Greg Wright and the city’s financial staff worked with department heads to determine what the departments needed, what budget items needed to be adjusted for inflation and what raises could be given to city employees and elected officials.
Greenwood’s 2024 budget includes a 5% cost-of-living increase for all employees, new technology for the police department, more police and firefighters, a new fire engine, numerous new positions and “a lot of equipment purchasing and replacement,” Myers said.
For 2024, the city is expecting roughly $65.2 million in revenue. The budget is also expected to be “structurally balanced,” Wright said.
“At the end of the day, we want to make sure our budget’s balanced,” he said.
As for taxes, Wright says the goal is to keep the city’s tax rate at what the rate is now. Still, people may see their taxes go up due to changes in assessed value for properties — which is assessed by county officials, not the city.
“What we’re proposing in this year’s budget would be to keep the tax rate exactly as it was for 2023,” he said.
The city does plan to request a maximum property tax levy appeal, which would allow it to receive up to 2% more, about $1.4 million more, in tax revenue since the city grew 9% faster than the state over the last three years. The appeal will allow the city to be able to purchase a new fire engine and fund street work, Wright said.
The appeal is not expected to affect residents’ property tax bills to a major extent, Myers said. The city does not want to raise taxes, he said.
“We need the excess levy. As the city continues to grow, the levy needs to grow with it,” he said.
Planning ahead for public safety
The largest chunk of the 2024 budget is dedicated to public safety. More than $21.5 million, or 32.4%, of the proposed budget is allocated for public safety.
Four new full-time firefighting positions would be added to the fire department, all of which are intended for future Station 95. The new station, which would be located on the city’s southeast side near Worthsville Road and Interstate 65, is expected to open in 2026.
Though the four new positions are budgeted, they are not being hired this year. Instead, the city’s goal is to start setting funds aside for the positions before the new station opens so they don’t have to request a large amount of funds right before it opens. The plan is to fund 12 new firefighters total for the new station, Wright said.
In the meantime, the fire department will maintain its current staffing level, which is four people per engine, Myers said. That is full staffing, he said.
A fire engine is also planned to be purchased via a general obligation bond. Officials plan to initially house the engine at one of the city’s current fire stations before possibly having an engine move to new Station 95 when it opens, Wright said.
The current hope is for the engine to be delivered in 2025, he said.
For the police department, three new probationary officer positions will be added — continuing Myers’ plan to add three new officers a year for the next few years.
Along with receiving the 5% across-the-board cost-of-living increase, officials also plan to increase specialty pay. This pay is for roles such as K9, SWAT or the Honor Guard. On-call pay will also be increased, the budget shows.
VR training for police
New this year for the police department are planned, large-scale technology upgrades.
Officials are planning to purchase virtual reality firearm training hardware and software from Axon, the company the department uses for its body cameras. The plan is for the software to be used for half of shooting training, with the remaining half being traditional training.
To compensate for the change, GPD’s ammunition budget was reduced. The Axon VR training will cost $42,000 up front, then $24,000 annually.
An interview room is also planned to be upgraded with new hardware and software from Axon. The new system will integrate with Evidence.com, which is the evidence collection website used by the Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office, Wright said.
“All of the interviews that occur will be recorded and then uploaded (and) automatically tied to the case,” he said. “So it makes it a lot easier for the officers on the administrative side of it, and then also for the prosecutor’s office to get what they need.”
It will cost $52,000 to make the upgrades. Annually, the software will cost $12,600, the budget shows.
Both technology upgrades will also help with the recruitment of young officers, Wright said.
“Having some of the technological advances is a benefit on our side,” he said. “It’s something that you may not be able to get at some smaller departments, that we can get them to come here because we’ve got the best toys.”
The city also plans to purchase two additional FLOCK traffic cameras, Wright said.
Officials plan to add three positions across the city in addition to the new firefighters and officers. Two new positions are for the under-construction Greenwood Sports Park: a park manager and a grounds maintenance worker.
Another new position is for a food and beverage coordinator for the entire parks department, which will make the department more efficient, Wright said.
Greenwood’s proposed budget also accounts for inflation, especially for supplies. It also has increases in health insurance amounts for city employees, which continues to see rising rates, he said.
The city also plans to spend $365,153 to help finish Indy South Greenwood Airport’s apron expansion project. This project is funded through grants from the Federal Aviation Administration, which the city has to match. However, the matching portion for this year was higher than anticipated due to inflation, and the grant amount didn’t keep up, Wright said.
Rather than reapply for the grant and delay completion for a few years, officials decided to use some of the airport’s funds, which the facility generates, to finish the project, he said.
In terms of capital projects for 2024, the city plans to do work on HVAC units at the Community Center, purchase equipment for the sports park, purchase maintenance equipment for the parks department and update sidewalks and benches at University Park.
Other capital items include a fire suppression system for an IT server room, a new Harley Davidson motorcycle for the police department, the reconstruction of tennis courts at Craig Park and the city’s annual road paving/sealing project, Wright said.
Also listed as capital projects are more security cameras for the city center, the airport and the justice center. However, these will be paid out of federal relief funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, he said.
A public hearing for the budget proposal will take place next month. Final approval of the budget is expected by the end of October.
The city of Greenwood has made an interactive version of its 2024 budget available online for residents.