By Lucy Perry
After a series of budget hearings, Mayor Duke Bennett is optimistic as the Terre Haute City Council is set to vote on the 2016 budget next week during the regular meeting.
“The cuts we’ve made going into those meetings, get us to the point where we don’t have a deficit with all of our funds,” Bennett explained to the council at last night’s Sunshine Meeting. He noted that there are some funds that will have a negative balance to them for planning purposes.
He suggests the possibility of creating additional revenue for the city by implementing a trash user fee for residents, in which households could expect an approximately $10 bill each month.
“We have cut to the bone as far as we could go in all these general fund areas,” Bennett said.
Reportedly, contractual services, such as those for a 12-year trash service and miscellaneous legal fees hit the budget hard each year.
“As we know, we started this year with a $5.5 million dollar deficit. So we’ve got to deal with that, obviously,”Bennett said, explaining that with a new revenue source of $2 million- from charging the possible trash fee--the balance would be positive for next year at $1,751,436.
He added that other options can be considered as well to fill the gap.
Councilman Norm Loudermilk suggested asking union officials to consider delaying contracts for one-year.
“They’d rather have their contract delayed by one year, than to have potential layoffs or loss of employees” Loudermilk said. He also said he’d like for the city redevelopment commission to submit a budget report publicly.
Councilman Todd Nation said cutting overtime hours for city employees and limiting contractual services could bridge the gap. Another suggestion was to work with Vigo County government to implement additional sales tax.
Bennett presented a revised budget to the council members to consider, saying the 2016 general fund balance is expected “to be in the black.”
Total 2016 budget equals $93,766,008, with $88,141,523 disbursements and a variance of $5,624,485. One page of the mayor's two-page report included information on “the most stressed fund,” the general fund -- with assumption of $32, 915,851 total revenue. Total expenses in the general fund are projected at $35,814,425.
One page of the budget summary Bennett handed out to the council members to reveiw covers operating funds, summarizing total controlled funds revenue of $59,449,008 for 2016 and disbursements of $57,091, 822 with a variance of $2,357,186. This is a snapshot of money for the general fund, motor vehicle highway, local road and street, parks and recreation, cemetery, transit, cumulative capital improvement, cumulative capital development income tax, fire pension and police pension.
Other funds -- for Rea Park non-reverting, engineering non reverting, fire training non -reverting, wastewater utility, EMS non-reverting, fire non-reverting, HAZMAT non-reverting and parks non-reverting-- is projected at $34,317,000 with expected disbursements of $31, 049,701. The variance is $3,267,299.
“We have no choice but to find additional revenue to fill in some of the $9.9 million we lose per year because of the property tax caps. We’re going to have to find another piece of revenue soon to deal with the general fund issues,” Bennett said.
Council members present at the meeting included Loudermilk, Nation, Amy Auler, Bob All, Neil Garrison, George Azar and President John Mullican. Councilmen Don Morris and Jim Chalos were not present.
Mullican announced his resignation from the city council and will also be withdrawing his name from the city election ballot in November, because he is reportedly moving out of state.
© Indiana Central News. All rights reserved. Terre Haute, Indiana
News Writer: Lucy Perry