During the May 30, 2018 South Bend City Council Meeting the council and those in attendance learned the city's budget is in the negative. The City of South Bend is now reportedly looking to raise the Utility Rate Excise Tax by 5% because the city is currently operating in the red and it's against the law to do so.
South Bend City Treasurer Dee Roberts informed the council and members of the audience that the best and only solution at the moment is to impose a Utility Rate Excise Tax to get the city out of the red. "What can I really say about it," Roberts told the Herald. "We have taken and taken from our reserves and nothing has been put back. At this moment this is the best option and quite honestly only option."
The tax would be attached to residents utility bill for water, sewer, and garbage and would amount to between $9-$10 per month. According to Roberts the tax would run for two years and at that time if the council doesn't vote to continue it, it would just run out.
The first reading for the ordinance is scheduled for July 9 and the second reading will be held July 23. The ordinance cannot go into effect for 90 days meaning the tax wouldn't go into effect until October 31 and would run until December 31, 2020 according to Roberts.
South Bend City Council member Jan Davis has been following a post created by the Herald on Facebook to see how residents feel and has seen residents' concerns. "What I would love is for all the people who are commenting on the proposed tax increase to come to the next city council meeting," Davis stated via email. "Not necessarily to voice your outrage, but to offer a solution."
She continued, "We are all outraged. How can we as a community make South Bend a place people want to be a part of. This is your city. If City Hall only hears from people when they are mad, that isn't really fair. One thing I have learned is that every city worker including administration is trying to keep this ship floating and prices never go down so this will be an ongoing trend we will be facing."
South Bend has already started damage control by making several cuts amounting to tens of thousands of dollars in the long run. However, residents have remained unimpressed with several calling for a city audit and the city to look at letting some employees go or contracting services out such as the police force.
The next city council meeting will be June 25 at 5:30 p.m.