Mayor James Mueller addresses the South Bend Common Council for the first time
SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- South Bend Mayor James Mueller addressed the South Bend Common Council on Monday evening for the first time since taking office.
Mueller focused on finances and the general condition of the city. Three main focal points of Mueller’s presentation were South Bend city schools, public safety and the upcoming census.
Just over 40 days since taking office, Mueller jumped right into where the city falls financially and overall.
“We’ve been doing a good job of budgeting,” said James Mueller, Mayor of South Bend. “And so we don’t have too much debt, we have a good amount…we have a fair amount of debt and so we’re in a good position to be able to tackle the challenges ahead of us.”
With about 23% of the budget focusing on public safety, Mueller and council members discussed how to improve safety within the South Bend community.
“We’re double-digits short on sworn officers in our police department,” said Mueller. “Our preference would be to act quickly and as soon as possible.”
A South Bend school referendum was also a topic of interest as state caps went into full effect this year, meaning they are looking to reinstate property tax revenue, according to Mueller.
As a result, less money would be paid out this year and come 2021, around the same amount paid in 2019 would then be paid once again, according to Mueller.
Mueller emphasized that this could lead to severe debt and that the South Bend School Corporation is in an unsustainable position at this time.
“The school situation is rather dire for the schools, South Bend School Corporation, where if they don’t get this referendum, by the end of the year they’ll have 10% reserves and they would go through that all through 2021 if they stay on the current trajectory,” said Mueller.
Mueller said that time is running out for the school referendum as voters are just nearly 80 days away from making a decision. The South Bend School Corporation would not have a chance to pursue another referendum until 2022.
“We’ve got to make sure that every resident in South Bend is counted so we get our fair share of federal funding and other things tied to population,” said Mueller.