City Council OKs appropriations, fixes error

Tribune-Star/Austen Leake In session: Terre Haute City Council members listen to comments from the public on non agenda items during Thursday's meeting at City Hall.

The Terre Haute City Council approved a pair of appropriations and a revolving loan for the city Thursday at its second of two August meetings.

And while one of the appropriations was a straight forward transfer of funds, the other was mulligan needed to correct an error made during the city’s budgeting process.

Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett explained to the council that an appropriation of $560,000 was needed for the city’s Wastewater Utility to cover the capital outlays section of their budget through the end of the year.

He said the money should have been requested when the council was preparing the year’s budget in 2018, but an error led to nine line-item fields being left blank and zeroed out.

“One of three things happened,” Bennett began when explaining the oversight, “either someone didn’t enter those line items in or entered the line items and didn’t save, or there was some glitch with Gateway.

“Either way, we didn’t catch it with our review process when we gave it to [the City Council].”

Bennett said the appropriation was a straightforward request to cover expenses normally funded, but Council member Todd Nation, D-4, said it was borne of an oversight like he hasn’t seen in some time.

“I’m struggling to remember an oversight like this where we’ve had to come back months later and straighten out,” Nation said.

Bennett told Nation he could only remember two or three instances in the last decade in which one or two line items were left mistakenly blank, but could not think of a time when an entire section of a department’s budget was erred.

The request to transfer $560,000 was approved unanimously.

A second appropriation request, one for $8,214 in economic development income tax funds, for the demolition of unsafe buildings was also approved unanimously.

The council also approved Thursday a request from the city to borrow $1 million in Terre Haute Redevelopment Commission funds to support city operations through the end of the year.

Bennett said similar loans have been used the past and that it helps ensure city finances continue trending in a positive direction.

“It is important for us to have this cash available to make sure we’re able to continue pay all our bills on time, like we have been, and to make sure we can make our large payments on time,” Bennett said.

The loan will use $500,000 in tax increment financing monies from the Central Business District and $500,000 in TIF monies from the State Road 46 Redevelopment fund. The loan is to be repaid by Dec. 31 of this year.

Bennett ensured the council the loan would not effect any ongoing Redevelopment project.

The request was approved 7-2, with Nation and council president Martha Crossen, D-6, voting against.

The council, at the request of the petitioner’s attorney Richard Shagley, tabled a request for a property tax abatement that would result in 40 low- and moderate-income units at 200 S. Sixth St.

The request was for an eight-year, nearly $120,000 property tax abatement to help facilitate the renovation of the old downtown YMCA building.

Shagley said he and his client, Wisconsin-based Commonwealth Companies, wanted to have all relevant information needed to make a compelling argument for abatement before addressing the council. He said they’d likely have all that information later this month.

The request was tabled and will be heard at the council’s Sept. 12 meeting.

Reporter Alex Modesitt can be reached at 812-231-4232 or at alex.modesitt@tribstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @TribStarAlex.