Martinsville in the red, struggling to make payroll

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MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (April 17, 2015)-- There is concern in Martinsville, a city $27 million in debt, that there is not enough money in their general fund to pay City employees.

“See how we’re spending more than we’re taking in? See this revenue, 1.4? We spent 1.9,” said Valerie Hugart, Martinsville’s Clerk Treasurer as she referenced the city’s budget spreadsheet.

“Normally I’d like to see between $3-5 million in cash, on hand in the general fund, right now we have less than $1 million in cash. Within two months, that $1 million will be gone due to claims and payroll,” she said.

“If we have another disaster such as a flood or tornado, we’re done… we’re done,” she said.

The money in May that will be used to pay city employees will have to come from the fund designated for the city’s police and fire departments.

“It keeps me up day and night. I worry day and night about being able to make payroll and pay the people of Martinsville,” she said.

What’s to blame?

“Some of it could be considered reckless spending,” said Hugart.

Hugart referenced the purchase of a $25,000 parking lot in downtown Martinsville, which the City collects no revenue from. Also the 2012 $1.05 million purchase of the former Rogers Block building that is still, sitting vacant.

“My allegiance is to the taxpayers of Martinsville and I think they need to know where we’re at financially. In no way shape or form am I mudslinging anyone,” said Hugart.

“It has been a concern for about a year and a half and we have been addressing that,” said Martinsville Mayor Phil Deckard.

Deckard is well aware of the dangers of his city’s deficit. He said he’s been addressing the problem through budget cuts and hiring freezes for more than a year.

“I am presently working with short man-power in every department in the city, including our street department, including our police, our fire,” he said.

After years of cuts, and fiscal responsibility he hopes the coffers will correct themselves and that his city will be back in the green, “I commend my administration on dealing with the subject at hand,” he said.

The city will be getting a tax draw in a few weeks, which the Mayor hopes will help the city’s bottom line. For right now though, there is a lot of wait and see.

Deckard said those purchases were made under advisement of the city’s economic development office and were seen as economic development opportunities.

Both Hugart and Deckard agree, there should be no concern over city officials not getting paid, and as for borrowing money from the fire and police departments, that they say will not impact the performance of those departments.