TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — The 2020-21 budget for the city of Terre Haute approved tonight by the City Council represents a smaller increase than in past years, due to lower revenues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Terre Haute’s operating budget for 2020-21 will be $96 million, up a half percent. Usually, the budget rises around 3%. With the projects of the Department of Redevelopment added, the total budget will be $108. The City Council only voted on the operating budget today.
Mayor Duke Bennett said, “We tried to not increase it very much. It ends up being a pretty small increase. Typically, we do a three to four percent increase every year.”
Bennett added, “I don’t want to eat into the reserves. That’s why we’ve reduced the (expansion of the) budget, so we can hold on to what we have.”
Earl Elliott, Chairman of the City Council Finance Committee, said, “The mayor has indicated there will be some decrease for 20-21, but not significant. The unknown is going to be (COVID-19’s continued effect) and what might happen in 2022.”
The budget includes funding for standing projects such as infrastructure improvement, body cameras for the police department and a 3% pay raise for city employees, a slightly more generous raise than is the norm.
“We’re probably averaging about a one-and-a-half percent raise each year since I’ve been in office,” Mayor Bennett explained. “That’s only because we’ve been able to do a couple big ones like this.”
Both city officials say despite decreased revenues due to the pandemic, the city’s budget will be balanced this year. They anticipated in advance the Council would pass it without changes. “I don’t foresee any hot-button issues that are going to come up, but you never know,” Elliott said.
“That’s six straight years for the city of Terre Haute having a balanced budget,” Bennett proudly noted, adding city residents don’t need to worry about any tax increases because of lost revenues. He says the city works to ensure it has the money needed to get things done.
Before today’s vote, Council members had been working on the 2020-21 budget since mid-August.