Heated arguments over city finances

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) Terre Haute’s city budget was at the center of a special meeting. We’ve covered the city finance issues since they were brought up. Thursday night, the city council held a special session to address the council’s concerns on the state of the city; and it got heated.

“Do you foresee the city ever filing for bankruptcy?” City Councilman Don Morris asked Mayor Duke Bennett.

“Absolutely not.” The short succinct response from Bennett.

Are we paying our bills on time?” Morris pried.

“Absolutely we are.” Bennett responded.

This was just a sample of the tough and pointed questions by the city council at the mayor and his administration; in light of yet another year of what some councilman deem budget turmoil.

“We’ve had continual deficit spending and we are trying to get revenue and our spending in line,” Councilman Neil Garrison said. “And we continue to try and do that every year. That continues to increase the deficit. So we want to try and find ways to reduce that.”

The problem as the mayor tells it, since property tax caps came into existence, the city has not seen close to its year 2008 revenue.

“We are paying all of our bills,” Bennett said. “We are doing everything we are supposed to do by the book, by the laws of the state of Indiana.”

“Some people don’t like that or they want us to do it differently. That’s their opinion. we are gonna do everything the right way and we are going to do it by the book.”

What the meeting became dominated by were the two views on how to handle the future.

“My plan is to ask the council if we can get together and talk as a group either publicly, privately, whatever with our consultant and figure out: “do we continue to wait for the mayor to do the budget for us to react? Or do we take matters a little bit more into our own hands?” Garrison said.

“Its a little bit more complicated than saying, “what’s the answer to this?” especially when you’re going back multiple years and looking at it,” Bennett explained. What I take away from it is: It would be great if some of our council members would come in and sit down and talk to us about some of these specific things so we can have an ongoing conversation. “

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