Gary Mayor promises balanced budget for city by 2021

Gary, Indiana Gregory Tejeda The Chicago Tribune October 9, 2018 Finance + Operation

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson promised during her “State of the City” address Friday that Gary’s municipal budget will be balanced by the end of 2021.

The mayor said that would be the natural outcome of the long-range plan Gary officials hope to implement in the near future to both reduce the amount of debt the city has incurred, while also boosting the levels of revenue.

Freeman-Wilson told a lunch gathering at the Genesis Convention Center how city officials are already working on putting together the plan that will stabilize the city’s financial picture – erasing the days of a city that couldn’t come up with enough cash to pay its basic bills.

“We’re making five-year projections,” the mayor said. “That’s something new for us, although I’m sure it isn’t new at all for corporate entities such as NIPSCO.”

Just this week, the Gary Common Council approved a measure calling for borrowing of $8 million to ensure that police and fire pension expenses are met, along with payroll and health benefits for city employees this year. They also talk of borrowing some $40 million overall in upcoming years to meet government expenses — using the Public Safety Building as collateral for the loans they seek.

The Common Council in recent months has talked about the need for cost-cutting measures that will take place during the next couple of years to bring city spending under control. When combined with what she hopes will be new business interests coming to Gary in the near future, Freeman-Wilson said that will be the key to a more fiscally responsible Gary government.

“We will have that balanced budget in 2021 by implementing this overall plan,” she said.

Common Council President Ronald Brewer said he believes things will be happening to create positive change for Gary in the near future. “Let’s spread the good news, things will be happy inside Gary,” he said.