The city of Elkhart says its back is against the wall as they continue to see a drop in property tax revenues.
Leaders say they have to come up with a way to offset the shortfall, or possibly look at cuts elsewhere.
Until now, the city has picked up the tab for residential trash collection in Elkhart, but that could change starting in 2013. Residents could start paying a monthly collection fee of $11.35 a month – money that would go to offset decreases in property tax revenue that funds the city budget.
“We received notice of an unexpected $2 million shortfall in the budget we are operating with right now in 2012, and then another $2 million loss is expected for 2013,” said Mayor Dick Moore. This is going to be the most difficult budget that we have ever worked on.”
The trash fee would help the city with efforts to provide a balanced budget for 2013.
“We want to continue on providing all of the services, we want to keep our departments open,” said Moore.
For some, a small monthly trash fee is not overwhelming. But it could be for others.
“Right now with the way the economy still is, I only work part-time,” said Evelyn Van-Alstine. “Some people are like that's just a little pocket change, but for a lot of people that is a fortune because they are on such a limited income.”
“I can't fault the city for needing to make up a shortfall,” said Mary Perron, who is retired. “However, it is really hard on people that are on fixed incomes or retired and it would be hard for us.”
As it stands right now, the city council will sit down to begin looking into the matter at their August 6 meeting. Public hearings will be held to get input on the proposal. The hope and goal is to get a better picture on the idea in time for city budget hearings later this year.
“It’s a pretty steep hill for us to climb to prepare a budget anymore,” said Moore.