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Terre Haute City Councilman Raises Budget Questions

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A Terre Haute city councilman says he wants more information from the mayor’s office about how the city plans to raise and spend money for the coming year.

Fifth District Councilman Neil Garrison says the city council may attempt to hire an outside financial analyst to examine the city’s fiscal health. Garrison says he has had trouble getting complete records of city finances from city leaders.

“We don’t just take what information is given to us or, in some cases, not turned over,” Garrison says.

But Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett says his administration has been forthcoming with council members seeking access to the city’s books.

“Any time they ask for a specific report, we provide that,” Bennett says. “They’ve had some vague requests that we can’t seem to exactly pinpoint what additional information they want. We’ve asked both of those councilmen to come in and meet with us and they’ve refused to do that to get it clarified.”

Another point of contention is the length of a tax anticipation loan the city took from the state to help meet its obligations. Bennett sought an 18-month loan, but the council reduced that to one which must be paid back by the end of the calendar year.

Bennett says he accepts that, but says he will now have to ask for another such loan in 2013. The second loan, the mayor says, will cost the city about $20,000 in origination fees, but will potentially save $30,000 in additional interest payments the longer loan would have incurred.

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