Chesterton Tribune



Shortfall projected in Town of Chesterton 2017 General Fund

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A mistake has been made in the calculation of the Town of Chesterton’s 2017 budget.

It shouldn’t impact residents, and it will have virtually no negative effect on property-tax bills, but it will mean some belt-tightening for the town’s municipal departments.

At Monday night’s meeting of the Town Council, Clerk-Treasurer Stephanie Kuziela read a prepared statement, the gist of which is that in 2017 the General Fund--which chiefly covers day-to-day operations--will see a shortfall estimated at $800,000.

The actual General Fund levy for 2017: $3,247,877, compared to $4,044,321 in 2016, a decrease of 20 percent.

The miscalculation occurred, Kuziela said, when non-controlled funds--for the most part debt-service related--were inadvertently included in the calculation for the maximum levy. “Since the non-controlled funds were included in the maximum levy constraint, the controlled-fund levies were short $900,000.”

There will be no property-tax increase to meet the shortfall. There may not be, under Indiana Code. In fact, Kuziela said, “residents and commercial properties will not see much of an impact on their bills due to already meeting the respective property tax caps.”

Nor will residents or municipal employees be impacted by the shortfall, Kuziela emphasized. “Next year residential and commercial units will not see an increase in their taxes if they have already met the property-tax cap,” she said. “Public services will not be cut, there will be no personnel changes, nor will there be any changes in the quality of service. We will continue to keep moving forward.”

Some departmental belt-tightening is likely, however, although because the error was discovered early enough, Kuziela said, “we have time to plan prudent expenditure decisions in an attempt to mitigate the shortfall.” Kuziela said that she should have a “detailed plan to assist us in this process” by the end of the June.

In the meantime, Kuziela believes that sufficient moneys are in reserve “to cover the uncollected taxes,” first in the Cumulative Capital Improvement Fund and then in CEDIT. And, she added, “with all of the upcoming construction, the Building Department’s potential revenues look promising.”

As of yet, Kuziela has no firm number in mind with respect to intra-municipal fund transfers, but she did say that it will probably be--“on the low side”--around $670,000.

“To ensure this type of shortfall does not happen again, I have moved up the budgeting season with department heads to allow for more time to double-check our numbers,” Kuziela noted. “I will be training my deputy to have a better understanding of the budget process, so she can look over the budget proposals and understand the contents. I will also be working closer with London Witte, our financial adviser, and my Department of Local Government Finance representative to verify our numbers before advertising and budget adoption.”



Posted 4/25/2017




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