Hobart city budget about the same as last year
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent August 25, 2013 10:00PM
Updated: August 25, 2013 10:24PM
HOBART — The city’s proposed 2014 budget of $18.1 million is slightly less than last year’s, even though it includes 2 percent raises for employees and elected officials and the last leg of the 61st Avenue improvement project.
Last year’s proposed budget was $18.2 million.
Clerk-treasurer Deborah Longer said she anticipates the final budget to end up being around $16 million, the same as last year, after the state makes its cuts.
“This budget includes for the first time a 2.6 percent growth factor due to the unfrozen levy,” Longer said.
But Longer said it was a shifting of employees to different departments, not the unfrozen levy, that is allowing for the first raises for city employees in about three years.
“The mayor was talking about the city needing to give raises even before the levy was unfrozen,” Longer said.
She said the city has reduced manpower in certain areas, moving those employees to other departments.
For instance, when the city purchased new automated garbage trucks, only one person was needed per truck instead of two. The other workers were moved to the Sanitary department, which is paid out of sanitary fees, not the general fund.
“We were able to get more done without adding people. Now it can be done cheaper. That’s how we can give raises,” Longer said.
She said major expenditures for next year are the final stage of the 61st Avenue project, which is budgeted at more than $5 million for the city’s portion, and Brickie Bowl, which the city just received from the School City of Hobart in a land swap.
The 61st Avenue project will extend from Arizona Street to Indiana 51. The largest of three phases, it will continue the expansion of the roadway, a center turn lane, sidewalks and lighting, as well as a roundabout at the Wisconsin Street intersection.
Longer said the wooden bleachers at Brickie Bowl will need to come down. The city’s Special Events and Parks departments are looking at holding events there beginning next spring, she said.