Evansville City Council approves 2021 budget, affordable housing amendment fails

Evansville City Council approves 2021 budget, affordable housing amendment fails

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Evansville City Council approves the 2021 budget in a 6-3 vote Monday.

This comes only days after Council President Alex Burton announced a withdraw of his proposed amendment to the budget that would consider moving money from the police department.

In the process, a push to reduce city funding given to affordable housing failed.

This budget amendment was one of many discussed among Evansville City Council members Monday evening, but the vote was not unanimous.

A group of people outside the Civic Center were protesting the proposal just before the meeting at 5 p.m.

The pushing of the horn was an effort to persuade council members not to cut funding from the affording housing trust fund. Several cars circled the building ahead of the meeting with signs on their vehicles.

Council members Jonathan Weaver and Justin Elpers sponsored what would have scaled down the allocation in half; from $500,000 to $250,000.

“Everybody keeps saying ‘put money in this account, put money in this account’ but what is the plan?” questioned Missy Mosby.

About half a dozen people showed up to the meeting to share their concerns if the funding were to be slashed. Just under a quarter-million dollars remains in the affording house fund now, according to Metropolitan Development Director Kelley Coures,

“That’s why it’s important to keep money in there because it’s flexible," explained Coures. "It’s a flexible funding source, it’s not federal dollars that have all the regulations you have to do. The more you have in the trust fund, the more flexible you can be with it. The more things you can do.”

Elpers pointed out the city is expecting about a 28% decrease from Casino revenue, which adds up to more than $3 million, because of the changes the business has had to make during the pandemic. Therefore, numerous city departments, such as police, fire, METS and the Mesker Zoo will be given fewer dollars.

He says if this money would be cut from affordable housing, four to five city employees could be hired back.

“This is putting people first because you are immediately giving people a job to put food on their table, put a roof over their head," stated Elpers. "This would happen as of January 1, 2021.”

“Sure, I get it. Budgets are tight," expressed Council President Alex Burton. "But the wrong thing to do in this moment is to take money away from the affordable housing trust fund that we need.”

Congregations Acting for Justice and Empowerment (CAJE) board member Linda Henzman says she is relieved by the decision.

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