Pandemic expected to significantly impact next year’s city budget

Pandemic expected to significantly impact next year’s city budget

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - The COVID-19 pandemic is proving to be problematic for the 2021 Evansville city budget.

Every department is expected to be impacted.

Mayor Lloyd Winnecke says this will be the ninth city budget he has presented, and also considers it the most challenging.

$8.2 million is the approximate revenue reduction city leaders are calculating.

“Every business, every institution, is going through exercises just like this,” Winnecke explained.

Making up that total, casino revenue is expected to be down $3.5 million dollars, which Winnecke says is a primary means to buy city equipment such as snow plows or fire trucks.

Another more than a million dollars comes from funding streams which help repair roads, meaning less paving across the city is likely.

The Mayor also anticipates a “large cut” in the Local Option Income Tax (LOIT). This helps to both balance the budget and, in some cases, make capital purchases.

“We have to operate this like a business or like we operate our personal finances, as we’ve always done on a larger scale,” Mayor Winnecke compared. “If we don’t have money, we can’t do things.”

The city continues to closely monitor purchases, but there will also be cuts to the workforce.

14 positions have been identified to be eliminated through attrition.

At least three more positions will be paid through other sources such as privately or through grants.

Two and a half of those positions fall under the Department of Metropolitan Development. 14 News is learning the positions will now be paid through Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) which funnels down from The Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Mesker Park Zoo marketing position salary is being picked up privately through the zoological society.

Each of these measures takes pressure off the general fund.

“They will be in those jobs until the end of this year in most cases, so there’s a little bit of a runway for someone to figure out what his or her future might be from an employment stand point,” Mayor Winnecke added.

The Mayor also shared more than 80% of general fund expenses are related to personnel and benefits.

Revenue projections from the state are expected to come out in September, which could help city leaders determine if their projections are accurate.

The Mayor says these estimates were based on data with financial advisors and following what state economists are saying.

Other components that could impact these local findings are the flexibility of CARES Act money spending, plus Congress stimulus negotiations.

Winnecke says about $3.7 million was repealed from the 2020 capital budget.

2021 budget presentations to city council are expected to begin Monday afternoon.

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