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L’burg needs consensus PDF Print E-mail
Written by Staff Report   
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 10:47 PM

It is not what has been done in Lawrenceburg, but HOW it has been done.

It is the possible elimination of popular events.

Even though Mayor Dennis Carr vetoed the 2013 budget passed 3-2 by council Wednesday, Oct. 24, there is still the salary ordinance and positions eliminated, not to mention the drafting of new budgets for the municipal development fund and riverboat fund. The veto means property tax levels and the basic city budget stay the same as they were in 2012.
Lawrenceburg residents can decide whether the various city council people and mayor are right or wrong. We just want to highlight the past budget procedures, what some of the proposed cuts are, how they were made, as well as a few miscellaneous facts.

Here is the past:
*The city did not have a budget for the millions it receives in revenues associated with the casino until 2001.
*Initially all the riverboat gambling revenue was socked into one budget, the municipal development fund, which later was split into the municipal development fund and riverboat fund in 2010.
*Until this year and one lawyer’s opinion, those budgets for the MDF and riverboat fund were done at the end of the year.
*The MDF-Riverboat budgets were wrangled out at public meetings, although with few people in attendance. At those meetings, council and department heads and other groups went over the details and the salaries. The details included what infrastructure projects were not yet completed, not yet started, or expected to start in the coming year.

And a few facts from the election last year:

Lawrenceburg is the only city out of the three in Dearborn County which has council people elected by a single precinct/district only.

In one race there were 34 votes deciding the winner.

In another race the winner and loser were separated by 111 votes out of a total of 415.

The total number of ballots cast in the mayor’s race was 1,062.

The budget passed by city council last week, and subsequently vetoed, also included line item budgets for the MDF and riverboat revenues. The budget advertised by the city included the basic revenue amounts.

Items with a zero next to them in the MDF and riverboat revenue budgets:
*Fall Fest
*Dearborn Adult Center

*Lawrenceburg Main Street

As noted, in the past, council, the mayor and department heads would gather to hash out the details of the MDF and riverboat revenue budgets. Typically this was done in December, after most streetscape and utility construction projects were generally wrapped up for the year.

The 2013 budget passed, however, was drawn up by an outside contractor using numbers from the current year and without input from the entire council, the various department heads or groups traditionally funded.

So the biggest event in Lawrenceburg, Fall Fest, has zero dollars allocated. It draws 20,000 to 25,000 people into Lawrenceburg on a Friday and Saturday night in late September. Typically, Fall Fest is allotted between $300,000 and $350,000.

Many groups use Fall Fest as a fundraiser, including Special Olympics, the Sons of the American Legion, and the American Federation of Riders. All three organizations help children in many ways.

Eliminating Fall Fest is eliminating opportunities for those children.

And then there is the DAC, also allocated nothing in this budget. While it is one of the original groups named in a revenue sharing agreement, the additional money it receives from the city helps keep the doors open and programs running for about three months of the year.

The DAC was going to request $45,000, not much for what the DAC gives senior citizens, and others: a place to go and socialize, talk, play cards, dance, and enjoy themselves at low or no cost.

And then there is Lawrenceburg Main Street. A couple of weeks ago it helped six new businesses open “Pop Up Shops,” with the intention that if the business does well LMS could help the business become a permanent part of downtown.

It has helped businesses paint the outsides of buildings and purchase new awnings. It co-hosts Music on the River every Thursday between June and mid-September, again drawing people downtown.

It has promoted the downtown, has coordinated the Winter Wonderland celebration in December.

Its budget was listed at $325,000 in this budget, but that was reduced to $175,000. LMS planned to request $350,000.

Director Pat Krider said one third, or just over $116,000, is for operations, including her salary and another employee’s, along with the usual rent, phones and utilities.

Main Street and the Dearborn Adult Center have shared their books with us – budget requests, audits.

Their finances are no secret.

Is there a secret about why these organizations were cut from the budget?

We may yet find out, if and when the Lawrenceburg City Council sits down to hammer out a real MDF and riverboat budget.

That budget session – perhaps sessions - should have department heads and funded organizations presenting their cases in public with all council people in attendance and hopefully all having a say in the decisions.

The veto should be viewed as a second chance to develop concensus and chart a course for the city’s future as one team.