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South Bend braces for 2017 budget

The 2017 fiscal year is approaching but downstate legislation could hurt St. Joseph County’s expenses.

Local officials are now looking to supplement millions in lost revenue.

Mayor Buttigieg says the city will have to plan around that loss thanks to state lawmakers’ Circuit Breaker bill.

And he hopes cutting costs won’t necessarily mean cutting services.

A leaner budget could hit the common council chambers fairly soon.

That’s because the mayor and his administration are looking to use efficiency effectively for the upcoming fiscal year.

“If we take the right steps in 2016 and ‘17 we won’t be taken by surprise in 2019 and ’20,” said Mayor Buttigieg.

What will happen in 2020?

According to the city, another piece of the Circuit Breaker legislation kicks in, kicking out over several million in revenue that would go to South Bend’s general fund.

“It is property tax caps that are placed on different types of property,” Said Theresa Shuter, St. Joseph County Deputy Auditor.

That means property owners get a relief but a strain for the county and cities.

“It began in 2010 for St. Joe County, the loss to all the units in St. Joe County was about $28.5 million that has grown in 2016 to 76 million,” said Shuter.

A $76 million loss throughout the county and cities combined this year alone.

“The city is preparing to take a hit that amounts to over $3 million if you add up the general fund and parks and even more if you consider economic development dollars like TIF,” said Mayor Buttigieg.

But while the burden bears heavy on local officials to make due, the mayor says he’s looking to take on the challenge.

“It forces us to be disciplined and it forces us to squeeze every drop out of those taxpayer dollars that we do get,” he said.

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