MUNCIE, Ind. — The city of Muncie is moving forward when it comes to city spending. At the end of 2019, the City- Council failed to pass a budget for 2020. Since then the city has been operating out of the 2019 funds under the state mandate.
After nearly six months in the new year, the new leaders in Muncie are making a change.
“Has it been a challenge, yes. It has been a challenge and COVID has accelerated that challenge,” said Mayor Dan Ridenour.
The city council approved new ordinances for different departments during a virtual session on Monday. The big one is the ordinance for the City’s General Fund.
“Created an ordinance that changes the appropriations even though it’s not an official 2020 budget,” said Ridenour.
Since the 2020 budget failed to pass under the previous council, city leaders had to move money around to different departments to essentially create a budget.
Mayor Ridenour says now all city departments have a budget they can operate with but there were changes to some of those appropriations.
“Some went up, some didn’t change at all, some went down, we found some cost savings. those were the kinds of things we were looking for,” said Ridenour.
The city says with the help of grants from some local agencies they were able to purchase protection for fire, ems, and police during the pandemic, without having to ask the council for more money.
The initial 2019 budget was $24,845,000 now the city is operating out of a $24,840,000 budget. Which is also a $5,000 reduction in money being spent by the city.
“There were some expenses that happened in 2019 that just won’t happen in 2020,” said Muncie City Controller, Trent Conway.
Conway says they were able to reduce their expenses by eliminating funds that aren’t needed or haven’t been used. Like the Employee Assistance Program, where money appropriated for several years but the program was never operable. Elections expenses is another since there isn’t a city election this year.
“We just wanted to make a realistic budget where we did not have to make these transfers throughout the year. And if we need to add money back, we can go back before council and request that and discuss exactly what the purpose of that is for moving forward,” said Conway.
In addition, there were duplicate accounts created where money was collected in one and spent in another under the previous administration when the city switched to becoming self-insured. All in all, Mayor Ridenour says a lot of this was money put in the wrong funds not missing dollars, something the city hopes to prevent moving forward.
“There was just not a proper procedure, not only on the budget side but in other areas that just makes it more clear that here’s what you do when this situation occurs,” said Ridenour.
Mayor Ridenour tells us they have put in several new processes, steps, and procedures to make sure no one spends what’s not in their budget.