State audit expresses doubt about Terre Haute’s future

(WISH Photo, file)

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) — A state audit of Terre Haute’s finances has found that the southern Indiana city suffered recurring losses that raise doubts about its ability to continue to operate as a municipality.

The Tribune-Star reports that according to the audit, a decrease in property taxes has played a large role in the overall financial decline. It notes that Terre Haute is one of the cities hit hardest by reductions in property values and property tax caps.

Mayor Duke Bennett says the audit presented no surprises, and that the city has proposed plans to reduce expenditures and increase revenue, including fees to process sludge from other areas and a trash disposal fee. City officials say they will also lobby for a food and beverage tax.

Solutions outlined in the audit also include budget cuts and a reduction in the city workforce through attrition.

“We can’t sit idly by and not do anything, or we will put ourselves in a position where we may not be viable. We’re far from that,” but corrections are necessary. Bennet also pointed out the audit is for 2014, and that the city has been taking steps this past year to address its fiscal challenges.

Earl Elliott, a Terre Haute certified public accountant who won election to the city council in November, said auditors “do not report ‘going concern’ issues without a lot of care and consideration.” He added it was “a pretty serious comment.”

“I’m not sure what that means. I’m not sure what other options there are” or what would happen, Elliot said.

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