A request before the Terre Haute Sanitary District Board of Commissioners on Tuesday to appropriate $560,000 to pay for new equipment purchases as well as leasing of equipment drew immediate criticism from Pat Goodwin, a former city engineer and an independent candidate for mayor.
The issue of funds not included in the district’s 2019 budget was first raised in November.
Sally Roetker, project manager with the city’s engineering department, told the Sanitary Board it would need to revisit the 2019 budget, that had been approved in October, after the capital outlays section of the budget was omitted.
At the time, Roetker said $778,000 was needed in the budget to cover purchase of equipment.
“You have been spending money without money in the line items,” Goodwin said, and he asked why the city waited until July to correct this problem.
City Controller Leslie Ellis told the board her office “had other things on our calendar to take [care] of first, and we had to get monthly reports [to the City Council] caught up,” Ellis said.
Goodwin countered, saying, “This is eight months, nine months after the budget was passed and apparently you knew that line items were not appropriated and have been approving claims for six months. So this means you are making the budget bigger by over a half-million dollars.”
Ellis told the board the series of capital outlays section was not saved in an online reporting section on the state’s Gateway system.
“The cash flows [for revenue projections] were included but were not in the  budget and need to be appropriated into the budget” to make purchases of equipment, Ellis said.
The appropriation will go before the Terre Haute City Council next month.
After the meeting, Goodwin said, “it is embarrassing that you leave out a major part of your budget for approval. A whole series, not just one line item. They knew they had done it. They could have come back in January. It is not a lot of work and not require a lot of manpower to write an additional appropriation.”
“They inappropriately spent money for half a year,” Goodwin said.
After the meeting, Ellis said the amount was decreased to $560,000 “because after we went through the capital plan, we went back through what we needed and decreased it.
“This is definitely a bookkeeping correction,” Ellis said. “When we make cash flows that project [revenue], we want to make sure that we are staying with a balanced budget and not overspending our reserve.
“We knew the City Council is aware in the original budget of what we had, so the appropriations just need to be done by the end of the year,” Ellis said.
“It was an error that I made on very many line items I enter into the budget. There was one page for series 4, which is capital equipment, which obviously I didn’t push save [on online reporting on the state’s Gateway system] and I didn’t realize that,” Ellis said.
Ellis said the city’s wastewater utility fund is “an enterprise fund from user fees, so there is no property tax involved.”
“There is money available, but if for some reason the City Council does not appropriate, we can transfer money or have other funds we can reclassify such as the cumulative capital development fund to pay for it.”
The board also opened three bids from banks for a loan for a new camera truck, used to send cameras into city sewers for inspections.
Three banks submitted a bid, each on a loan of $379,052. Riddell National Bank bid an interest rate of 3.35 percent for five years; Terre Haute Savings Bank bid a 3.75 percent interest rate for a five-year loan; and Republic First National Bank, based in Rochester, Indiana, bid 2.97 percent interest for a five year loan.
The bids were taken under advisement for a legal review.