Council to impose ticket surcharge to pay cops' salaries

By RICK • November 3, 2009

MUNCIE — Traffic offenders will soon pay to help put laid off Muncie police officers back on the streets.

Muncie City Council took the first step Monday to impose a $6 surcharge on local traffic offenses to retain police officers funded by federal stimulus dollars.
Last July, the federal government provided $1 billion nationwide, with $26 million to Indiana, to hire or rehire police officers.
The federal money would pay officers’ salaries and benefits for three years, with local police departments agreeing to pay those expenses the fourth year.
Mayor Sharon McShurley was among the first mayors to reject the funding because the city had no way to pay the fourth year.
Police Chief Deborah Davis offered a plan to raise money with a gasoline surcharge on traffic offenses to cover the estimated $360,000 in the fourth year or $72,000 for each officer.
Council member Brad Polk, also local Republican Party chairman, proposed the measure that won initial support of the Democratic-controlled council.
McShurley said the charge would enable the return of rookie officers that were laid off last summer because of budget constraints.
City government is borrowing millions of dollars just to operate before receiving a property tax settlement this year. And officials could lose more than $4 million in 2010-11 because of property tax caps that also caused the layoff of 32 Muncie firefighters.