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Staring at Millions in Shortfalls, Terre Haute Begins Planning 2010 Budget Early

Terre Haute city officials have already started writing their budget for 2010.

That is two months ahead of schedule, according to Mayor Duke Bennett.

The city recently found out it needs to cut an additional $500,000 on top of the original $3.2 million it expected to slash in order to break even.

Bennett said he is unsure how potential incoming funds from the federal stimulus package could help with next year’s budget.

“Most of the things we’ll get stimulus money for will be one-time projects. [The money] will help a little bit, but it’s not going to have much of an impact on next year’s budget. [W]e might be able to do some things we weren’t going to be able to do for three, four or five years down the road,” Bennett said.

“There are a lot of misconceptions in the public. Because they think [the federal government is] just going to give mayors big bags of money and say, ‘Here. Go stimulate your local economy.’ It’s not anything like that at all.”

Bennett said the stimulus funds package could help offset the cost of annual purchases, like new transit buses, and long-term projects such as road construction.

Updated estimates from the state’s Legislative Services Agency show property tax revenues dropped in Terre Haute more than expected, to due caps put in place by last year’s General Assembly.

In addition to upcoming budget cuts for 2010, the city also reduced its 2009 budget by more than $1.5 million. While the mayor said the city wants to steer clear of layoffs, there might be no way to avoid them.
Bennett also said city tax collection was down two percent last year.

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