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City leaders disagree about some issues as budget deadline approaches

By James Fillmore
Published On: Oct 29 2013 04:48:24 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 29 2013 05:17:08 PM CDT

We take a closer look at the proposed 2014 budget for South Bend.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -

The City of South Bend needs to approve its budget by Friday but city leaders are hopeful it will happen Wednesday night.

The proposed 2014 budget is more than 344 million dollars which is millions less than 2013.

There have been disagreements over the Mayor's proposals on salaries and 2-way streets but Pete Buttigieg says his administration has worked with council members and feels they have a better understanding of what his office is trying to do.

Around $200,000 would go toward police patrols downtown and in neighborhoods while slightly more than one million would fund curb and sidewalk projects.

Pay raises are another big issue.

The mayor has proposed as much as a 35 percent increase to executive salaries.

Buttigieg says, "Some positions are being paid dramatically lower than similar positions within our city and similar positions within other cities and that's not fair. It's also going to hold us back when it comes to attracting and retaining good people." 

Some city workers would get around a 2 percent increase while other employees, including the mayor, would get no pay raise in 2014.

Some feel the percentages should be more balanced.

Council member Oliver Davis says, "We have to consider the fact that we are finalizing our teamsters negotiations right now. Next year we have police and fire negotiations and every time we do a budget change we have to understand how that impacts all of our labor negotiations." 

Money in the 2014 budget would also go to the Smart Streets Program which helps to revitalize downtown and other areas of the city.

Council President Derek Dieter plans to introduce an amendment Wednesday that would limit phase one of that project.

Buttigieg says, "I think it would be terribly unfortunate if the same council member or members who are asking us for more plans and more details turn around and cut the funding that we need in order to deliver those plans and those details."

Dieter says it's not unfortunate and points out that most of his constituents want to see the money spent in their neighborhoods and not downtown.

Council member Oliver Davis adds that although there were tensions this time around,  there was also a lot of compromise.

He feels city leaders learn from each budgeting session.

There is a final budget hearing tomorrow at 6 p.m. followed by a council meeting at 7 p.m. on the 4th floor of the County-City Building.