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Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett

Bennett says a significant shortfall in the city's operating budget is the result of property tax caps preventing the city from collecting much needed revenue.

Here are some highlights from today’s interview:

  • The general fund for the City of Terre Haute will be supplemented by a loan taken out by the city to cover expenses for the rest of the year.

“(The current general fund total comes to) about $372,000 is the extra cash, if you will. That’s the positive balance in the fund. That’s still not enough for what we need. It would be great if we have $4 or $5 million then we’d be just fine. And that’s where our predicament lies. And so we will move through the next six months and we’ll get paid again in December and we’ll be whole again.”

“It wouldn’t be very smart business if we didn’t take a tax anticipation warrant out and pay it back each year because the only way we could save $5 million back in the general fund would be to lay off somewhere between 100 and 150 people . . . We can’t lay that many people off. That’s just not even feasible. We barely have enough to do what we need to do now.”

  • Mayor Bennett cited lower assessed value of the property in Terre Haute and many entities which pay no taxes as reasons for the city’s shorfall.

“We have a tremendous amount of properties that don’t pay any taxes at all. With the federal penitentiary, the airport, Indiana State University, the hospital – we have a lot of property that are not on the tax rolls.

“We’ve sent out an RFI to all the local providers and over the next couple of weeks we’ll be reviewing proposals back from them and then selecting someone to go into contract negotiations with. I hope to have that clinic up and running sometime after Labor Day.”

“What we’re looking for is someone who’s already got the space and they would open up this clinic for us. So whether it’s one of the local hospitals or UAP Clinic or the one that the county and the school corporation is currently using. We will select one that already has the facilities and the staffing . . . we won’t be making any upfront investment.”

“There’s a wellness component that we are really going to encourage our employees and work with this group to ensure that we’re following good diets, getting regular blood tests, you know going to see the doctor because you don’t have to pay anything when you go there.”

“We’re going to save quite a bit on prescription meds – they’ll be able to dispense those meds right there at the clinic – and the savings will be much more than what we have currently through Anthem.”

“The key is getting people healthy and keeping them healthy so you don’t have those long term, significant health care costs down the road.”

“This new building will occupy a whole half a block . . . with 228 beds on the upper floors and first-floor commercial space that will bring additional retail opportunities downtown for people. And having those students live right on Wabash Avenue begins to mix them into the downtown versus them feeling they’re on campus.”

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