Discussions on local public safety tax dollars continue during a Terre Haute City Council meeting on Thursday

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – Talks surrounding local public safety tax dollars continued during Thursday’s meeting of the Terre Haute City Council.

During a virtual meeting of the Terre Haute City Council on Thursday, council president George Azar read an e-mail from The Reform Movement of Terre Haute asking city officials to use public safety tax funds for programs that reduce incarceration.

In response, during Thursday’s meeting Mayor Duke Bennett says he is open to listening to some of the ideas of the e-mail, but says the city is not currently able to fund these programs.

“We don’t have any line items to fund those activities and we’re not in a position to create those departments or hire that staff,” Bennett said.

Bennett says this is due to most public safety tax funds already being allocated and some upcoming challenges with finances due to COVID-19.

“We expect some revenue drops, somewhere between 15 and 25 percent next year, yet our budget is going to have to go up significantly to pay for the body cameras,” Bennett said.

Bennett says he expects body cameras for the Terre Haute Police Department to cost upwards of $200,000 dollars.

Also on Thursday, Bennett says for these types of programs to happen he would suggest looking towards another body of local government.

“The focus really needs to be on the county’s budget. They’re collecting $13 million dollars of new money this year, we’re collecting $2 million. That’s where the money is for programs,” Bennett said.

Azar says the discussion on this issue will continue as budget talks get closer.

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