The City of Kokomo’s budget could be crippled if it does not include almost $6 million in property tax revenue which would have been paid by Chrysler before the automaker went into bankruptcy proceedings. The city’s budget already needed about $3 million redacted from it. The Chrysler property tax default could multiply the amount of the money Mayor Greg Goodnight and the city’s Common Council need to find.
“This is on top of property tax caps, this is on top of lost revenue from our income taxes from having a lot of people laid off,” Goodnight said. “We were looking at $2.8 million in cuts for next year and we were well on our way to finding most of those, not all of them. But in the mean time — I know this is probably the catch phrase of 2009 — we’re going to have to make some tough choices.”
Speaking on WFIU’s “Ask the Mayor,” Goodnight said if Chrysler is allowed to forgo its payments, it will certainly mean more penny-pinching in the budget and could mean additional layoffs for a city which already leads the state with an 18.8% unemployment rate.
“They may be some [layoffs], it may be short work weeks. There could be a little bit of everything,” the mayor said. “I think people will tend to buy in and understand it if they see that we’re taking care of the pennies, as well as the dollars.”
As a result of the possible funding gap, Goodnight said he hopes firefighters — who have scheduled talks with city leaders in an effort to see some laid off employees re-hired — understand that a bugdet crunch may make that impossible.