The Terre Haute City Council on Thursday approved a $96.5 million budget for 2020 in an 8 to 1 vote.

The $3.3 million increase in spending over 2019 totals represents a 3.5% increase in total spending. Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett said the budget is projected to produce a $1.8 million surplus by the end of 2020.

Bennett said he feels good about the budget overall and it being the fourth consecutive balanced budget.

“It’s a balanced budget with excess revenues going to reserves and just exactly what we’ve been following the plan to do,” Bennett said. “This is the best budget of the last four. I’m really excited about where we’re at now and couldn’t be happier they passed it tonight.”

Part of the increased spending, Bennett said, includes several needed line item increases, including:

• Two additional code enforcement officers;

• Purchase of equipment and vehicles for several departments;

• Lafayette Avenue — Fort Harrison to Haythorne — street reconstruction project;

• Four percent salary increases for full-time staff, except elected officials;

• Wastewater lagoon clean-up and new debt payment.

In short, the mayor said, the 2020 budget allows the city to again invest in itself.

“We’re in a position again where we are starting to invest in ourselves a little bit,” Bennett said. “The biggest addition to the budget is Lafayette Avenue -- we’ll owe that [$1.2 million] match in January for the section between Fort Harrison to Haythorne.

Of the 25 city-controlled funds, 16 are balanced or projected to carry a positive balance into 2021. Seven are in the red but relying on existing cash balances to even out. Two, for Rea Park and Hulman Links, are unbalanced with no existing cash reserve on which to rely.

Rea Park and Hulman Links combined are more than $430,000 in the red.

The only no vote on the budget came from Councilman Todd Nation, D-4, who touted the idea of the council taking a recess and reconvening in a special meeting later in the month.

Before the vote the City Council was presented with a host of budget reductions and Nation mentioned, but never formally motioned, that he would like more time to go over the budget with the new reductions plugged in.

“I see that we have another meeting a week from today. I would appreciate a week to look at this stuff,” Nation said before learning it would take a recess and reconvening at a special meeting, among other special state-mandated steps.

“I understand that, and I really want to vote for this budget, but I can’t do that without having more time to absorb the information I’ve been presented with tonight,” he  said.

The council will meet again 6 p.m. Oct. 10 in City Hall Courtroom.

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

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