EVV budget discussions continuing Monday

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT)- Discussion continues Monday on the Evansville city budget. Amendments on the table regarding the amount of money allocated to the affordable housing trust fund. Now a local organization is speaking up against this proposal.

Council will begin hearing amendment options officially Monday.

“I always want to be consistent with my policies,” Councilman Justin Elpers says.

One option on the table, proposed by Elpers and Jonathan Weaver. Their recommendation is to cut the money allotted to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund in half, down to $250,000.

“The revenue for a normal year from the riverboat is somewhere between 13 and $14 million,” Elpers explains. “Going into 2021, We are projected to have around $9.7 million for 2021. So that’s obviously a shortfall.”

This shortfall, Elpers says, has left many city departments in similar positions. Departments like EPD are not getting the amount of money they would normally receive because the casino fund is expected to be less in 2020.

“All city departments that normally receive riverboat money are going to receive considerably less,” Elpers explains.

But for organizations like Congregations Acting for Justice and Empowerment (CAJE), they don’t believe there is a reason to remove this money.

“The United Way reported just a few years ago that we needed about 3000 units in the city of Evansville alone. So what’s fair,” Amy DeVries says.

“When the moratorium lives they’re going to be losing homes. They going to be evicted from their houses. Where would they go,” Floyd Edwards asks?

DeVries with CAJE Says they have had conversations with the people who benefit from the trust fund, “the people in Evansville are crying out for safe, decent, and affordable housing.”

Elpers explains, there are more than a dozen positions that are not being funded for 2021, “if we do pass this reduction we could actually use this to hire 4 to 5 more employees for the city of Evansville. And I think that policy is putting people first.”

CAJE says, the money, where it sits, will do good for the community.

“ $500,000 in The budget the size that we have is very little to ask,” DeVries says.

“That’s where we need to put our trust in and put our monies in,” Edwards continues.

On Friday, Council President Alex Burton withdrew his proposal regarding the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

Burton was met with backlash from the community, with people claiming it was an attempt to “defund the police.”

The budget needs to be finalized by November 1.

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(This story was originally published on October 11, 2020)

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