Evansville City Revenue 'Bouncing Back' From COVID-19 Pandemic as Budget Talks Begin
Mayor presents budget highlights to Finance Committee; final budget due in November
The City of Evansville has officially kicked off the city budget season, where the city administration and city council hash out how to spend the $400 million budget.
Technically, the budget isn't due until November. This year, there’s good news and bad news concerning city finances, which Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke shared via short budget presentation with the city Finance Committee on Monday.
He said city revenue streams are rebounding from the pandemic, but are still not to pre-pandemic levels. For example, casino funding is 8-percent higher than last year, but still $300,000 under 2019 revenues.
The budget is strong enough to ask for additional employees. He plans to ask the city council for some positions like a code enforcement inspector.
“We also have heard and seen a lot of complaints about substandard housing, and we want the code enforcement department to have the resources it needs to respond to complaints,” Winnecke said. “And it makes sure that our citizens can live in really comfortable and healthy, healthy living environments. So that's that's a big change.”
He also hopes to bring back the position of supervisor of street maintenance.
Capital budget highlights include new equipment for both police and fire departments, and upgrades to Central Dispatch.
The city is also exploring a nearly 10 million dollar bond for the city parks, which wouldn’t directly increase taxes for residents.
The bad news is that everything costs more. Winnecke said there are factors that drive expenses every year. Aside from personnel, there are fuel costs which the city tries to lock in at a lower cost.
The city has to fight to keep employees like everyone else. Winnecke said they’ve increased pay for both salary and hourly positions.
"We're like any other employer, it's difficult to retain talent,” he said. “So in order to keep the people that we really need, we've had to increase salaries to be competitive with the job market.”
Winnecke says this budget process is a “balancing act” as they try to figure out the best use of funds, which will continue until it is finalized and adopted in November.
City departments will also bring their proposed budgets to the financing committee as they move forward.