LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI)-In a special meeting Thursday evening the Lafayette city council unanimously passed the 2022 city budget.
The overall budget increased by 2.8 million dollars compared to the last one.
Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski said two million of that is the five percent increase to city workers and the three percent increase to police and fire pay. Last year, due to COVID, city employees only received a one percent raise. No new positions have been approved for the new budget except for the police department. They are asking for two new detectives to investigate cybercrimes.
At the meeting, some citizens spoke out against increasing police pay. Two local citizens Katey Watson and Brock Harpur sent this statement to WLFI after speaking at the meeting against the increase in pay for police officers.
"In our public comment, we were opposing the unnecessary additional raise of 1% on top of the 2% raise LPD were already receiving as part of their contract. Last year, the city gave LPD significant raises and longevity pay, LPD is also already receiving a brand new building, and in the budget, the mayor has already approved additional positions for LPD."
"As the mayor said, it's about public and police safety. What we're suggesting is that these additional funds shouldn't go towards police salaries, which are already significantly higher than median incomes in Indiana, and which won't actually increase public safety, but rather that those funds should be invested in alternatives that quantifiably reduce crime and prevent it from happening in the first place. Those are methods to increase food security, mental health services, housing services, and others, which are desperately needed by many, and will vastly improve the safety and lives of many in our community. Our community funds the government; it should work for and improve the lives of those in our community."
Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski responded by saying the government can't solve all of society's problems.
"Our budget has to be balanced we can't create a debt like the federal government is allowed to do and go into debt we cant do that," said Mayor Roswarski. "So we will continue to try to find that balance but to somehow say defunding police department or police are making too much money that's not the answer and that's not going to be the case."
Mayor Roswarski also says the city doesn't have extra money to invest in outside programs, he feels the government shouldn't be responsible for fixing all of society's problems.
"People that are just pointing the finger at the government, it's got be society as a whole taking a look at the root causes of this and what can we do as a society," said Mayor Roswarski. "Here at the local level, we have no extra money for huge amounts of mental health services."
The city has over six million dollars in the rainy day fund. Mayor Roswarski says one portion of the budget they may have to adjust is fuel costs. He says high fuel prices may cause them to go over what they have budgeted.