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Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett

Terre Haute officials have begun to craft the coming year's budget but the city's mayor says layoffs may still be necessary to make ends meet.

Terre Haute officials have begun to craft the coming year’s budget and are finding some efficiencies to avoid job losses.  But the city’s mayor says layoffs may still be necessary to make ends meet.

About a quarter of the city’s departments have undergone a review and Mayor Duke Bennett is pronouncing himself pleased with the process, despite the early date.

“The first four or five budgets we’ve made some pretty nice cuts in them,” Bennett said. “One of the departments a 20% cut with no reduction in force.”

Speaking on WFIU’s “Ask the Mayor,” Bennett said about 16 city employees have already been lost to attrition, with other employees taking over the job responsibilities of their departed colleagues.  But Bennett said the combination of lost revenue due to property tax caps and the continuing recession mean the city is nearing a point where departments are being cut back to their bare minimum staffing levels to maintain services and meet the constitutional requirement of a balanced budget.

“It just kind of varies from department to department,” the mayor said.  “And the issue at the end of the day is the bottom line — we get this much in property tax dollars and we redistribute across these departments — can we fund these activities?”

The mayor said layoffs may be necessary to keep the city in the black, but says in the mean time he’s budgeting for line items like increased gas prices and higher insurance premiums.

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