Chesterton Tribune

State cuts Chesterton 2012 budget to below 2011

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By KEVIN NEVERS

The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) has not simply slashed the Town of Chesterton’s 2012 advertised budget, that is, the budget submitted last fall for the state’s approval.

DLGF has actually cut the town’s 2012 budget to below the 2011 level.

That bad news Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann delivered to the Town Council at a special meeting early Monday afternoon.

The numbers:

•The town advertised a 2012 General Fund—used chiefly to pay employee salaries and wages and to cover daily operations—of $5,119,700.

•DLGF approved a 2012 General Fund of $4,770,237: $349,463 or 6.83 percent less than the advertised figure, and fully $79,190 or 1.63 percent less than the actual 2011 General Fund.

•In addition, the town advertised a 2012 Motor Vehicle Highway (MVH) fund—the Street Department’s main budget—of $1,022,500.

•DLGF approved a 2012 MVH of $828,739: $193,761 or 18.95 percent less than the advertised figure.

Now it’s not at all unusual for DLGF to trim municipalities’ advertised budgets. In fact it’s common practice. Last year, to take an example, DLGF cut a total of $270,709 from the town’s 2011 advertised budget.

But the cuts announced by DLGF last week amount to something like twice that amount, and Lukmann told the Chesterton Tribune after the meeting that at least part of the problem appears to be a publication deadline missed by the Clerk-Treasurer’s Office. Under Indiana Code, a municipality is required to publish its advertised budget—twice—by Sept. 10. Last year, however, it was published the first time on Sept. 9 and the second on Sept. 16.

It’s not time to panic, Lukmann added. For one thing, DLGF permits municipalities to request “adjustments” in a final approved budget, and by a 4-0 vote on Monday the council agreed to submit such a request. Member Sharon Darnell, D-4th, was not in attendance.

For another thing, Lukmann said, the town has a number of funds from which it can cover whatever shortfall there ultimately is. The Cumulative Capital Improvement fund, for instance, currently totals $514,000 from which a temporary loan might be made to the General Fund. The town also has $33,000 in its Rainy Day fund and anticipates receiving $100,000 as well this year from its share of the proceeds of the state riverboat tax.

The Major Moves fund, meanwhile—the town’s share of the proceeds of the Indiana Toll Road lease—has a balance right now of around $120,000, Lukmann said, which could be used in a pinch to bolster MVH.

 

 

Posted 2/14/2012