South Bend city officials gave their first overview of the city’s 2022 budget at a personnel and finance committee meeting Wednesday evening.
The city proposed a total budget of $382.1 million dollars, not counting any federal funds from the American Rescue Plan. $305.6 million of that would go to baseline spending –– what the city needs to operate –– and the remaining $76.5 million would go to strategic spending, or what the city spends to improve residents’ quality of life.
The $382.1 million represents a 7.8 percent increase from the city’s 2021 budget, and will put the city at a $26.6 million deficit –– more than twice as much as 2021’s $12 million deficit.
But South Bend Mayor James Mueller said the city has plenty in its cash reserves, and that surplus should be invested in the community as it continues to grow.
“What a lot of these things are, are investments in our future,” Mueller said. “This is a moment where I think we need to be bold and aggressive.”
City Controller Dan Parker said a large contributor to the deficit is due to a scheduled increase in capital spending on the city’s water and wastewater systems, which will be partially paid for with rate increases starting next year.
The biggest proposed changes from the 2021 budget are an approximately 23 percent increase in infrastructure spending, a 19.5 percent increase for the department of community investment, and a 19.1 percent increase for public safety answering points, where 911 calls are routed from the control office. The redevelopment commission would also see a 15 percent boost in spending.
The only area that saw cuts was access to opportunity, which decreased 3.3 percent when compared to 2021.
Parker said the city expects to collect more in property taxes than any year since the 2008 recession; however, it expected to collect less in income tax as part of the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city also proposed American Rescue Plan spending for 2022-2024. That includes $4.5-5.5 million for resident and small business relief and recovery, $13.6 million for youth services and programs, $2.3 million for climate action, $1.5 million for access to opportunity, $18-20 million for strong neighborhoods and $7.3-9.2 million for other programs, like homelessness and mental health services.
Mueller once again called the funding a “generational opportunity” to transform the city.
The Common Council and city administration will meet several more times to discuss different aspects of the 2022 budget:
- 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 18, baseline spending
- 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 25, council working session #1
- 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 1, strategic operations
- 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10, strategic initiatives
- 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 17, council working session #2
- 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 27, public hearing
- 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, summary and final questions (if needed)
The city will also hold two more “Build the Budget” meetings to get community feedback on ARP funds and the 2022 budget:
- 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 12, at the Pinhook Park Community Center
- 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 17, at the Howard Park Event Center
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