Terre Haute News
Indiana Central News
Terre Haute, Indiana
Terre Haute, Indiana
Several members of the Terre Haute City Council are calling on Mayor Duke Bennett to cut $2 million from a budget they will need to take action on tomorrow night.
Council President Todd Nation said during a press conference at noon today that he won't vote in favor of the proposed budget in it's present form. In fact, he says the responsibility lies "squarely on the mayor's shoulders to come up with $2 million more in cuts."
Mayor Bennett will respond to the council comments during a press meeting at his office this afternoon.
Terre Haute's financial challenges have been the center of several public meetings the first part of this year, in anticipation of hurdles for 2017. As the year is winding up, many council members don't feel the current budget proposal is moving in the right direction for the new year.
"Our goal was, for the 2017 budget, to make some headway towards rebuilding the fund balances that are now negative," Nation said, addressing reporters at City Hall this afternoon. He was joined by Vice President Karrum Nasser and members Earl Elliot, the City Council financial comittee chair and Martha Crossen.
Nation reminds the public that this time last year, the city was $9 million "in the hole." He has been hoping to see the funds replenished to the amount of $5 million "to the good." He is disappointed.
"What we've been given, by Mayor [Duke] Bennett, is a budget that again spends more money than the city will take in , in 2017," Nation said, adding that the proposed budget --- if passed as it stands at this point-- forcasts $1 million more in spending than actual revenue brought in.
Elliott is also disappointed in what has been proposed by administration, with a net deficit of approximately $1.1 million. The total budget is nearly $60 million in total expenditures. About $59 million is revenue.
Elliott notes that there are 19 funds in the budget. While the proposed general fund is in the positive $1.1 million., He is pleased it's in "the black," however, it's just not enough. He said it should be at $3 million -- in hopes of recovering a $15 million difference over a 5 -year period.
"That means alll the other funds -- the 18 funds -- net to a minus $2 million," Elliott explained. "All funds matter when generating a positive result," he said, explaining pooling into two accounts.
Crossen and Nasser said they are concerned about struggling citizens having to pay more to compensate for the city's need for funds.
"I think we also need to be better stewards of that money that they give. I think we have to look at our expenses, as we try to get out of this negative fund situation," she said.
Crossen has been outspoken about the "negative fund situation" throughout her time on the council. Today, she said pooled funds don't make sense in light of Terre Haute's current budget challenges -- where more is going out than coming in.
Nasser agrees with all the points made by the others today. He points out the need for more revenue noted throughout the year by Bennett.
"The citizens have already contributed with the solid wasted fee. Now it's up to him to make some tough decisions, with the expense side. He talks about it being 'complicated. He talks about it being 'complex.' In my mind, in the citizens of Terre Haute, it's arithmatic. We're spending more than we're bringing in," Nasser said.
In looking ahead, Elliott reminds the community about the anticipation of building new county jail and new high schools. He's "cautious that a substantial amount of money will be required to fund those" projects.
"We need to be cognizant of that community need also," Elliott said.
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News Writer: Lucy Perry