Evansville City Council passes $400 Million Budget with Investments in Equipment and Parks
The long process of budget work sessions and hearings ended Monday night with the approval of the approximately $400 million dollar Evansville City budget.
It was approved in several votes. There were numerous smaller amendments to the budget, and salaries are approved as separate ordinances.
Non-elected city workers received a three-percent raise, and elected officials received a one-percent raise. The mayor opted for a zero-percent raise.
Overall the budget is fairly healthy, especially with American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds, said Zac Heronemus, 3rd ward city councilor and council president.
“We're able to invest and invest appropriately in the community,” he said. But he added that the investigation into former Parks Director Brian Holtz’ receipts probe hit them “out of left field” and may have shaken the confidence of city residents.
Still, good news about the parks investment was a major highlight of the budget.
“I was really happy to see that council and the administration work to create a new crew for the parks department," Heronemus said. “Obviously, the residents of the City of Evansville would like to see our parks in a better shape. And this is a measure to start moving in that direction.”
The city council accepted the proposal from the city administration that would allow the parks department to add four additional maintenance crew members as part of the 2023 budget.
The additional salary amount is $177,000 for the four workers to help maintain city parks.
Prior to accepting the parks expenditures, Deputy Mayor and Interim Parks Director Steven Schaefer addressed council. He spoke to the need for another parks maintenance crew.
“It alleviates their rotation on mowing, schedule, repair, everything that's done in the park,” he said. “Adding another crew will simply allow them to more frequently get the parks mowed. And other things because in park maintenance, they do just about everything.”
The overall investment will be funded through a bond ordinance and includes necessary equipment.
He said new equipment is another highlight of the budget, such as 15 new police cars, a new fire truck, investments in demolition and trash cleanup.
"Those commitments of basic city services with adding equipment is huge,” he said. “That's from dialogue from Council in the mayor's office. And, and we appreciate that, because that's how government should work.”
Heronemus said they're doing the best they can utilizing their many revenue streams.
"Keep in mind, the City of Evansville, because of property tax caps, are not able to capture about $18 million in revenue that they used to be able to capture, and that is obviously a challenge," he said. "I think the administration and council's worked as well together as they can to to make sure that we're doing the best that we can to serve the residents of our city."