EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT)– City Council President Alex Burton has proposed to make some changes to the city’s budget shifting money from the police department and into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Some council members claim this is defunding the Evansville Police Department, but Burton says that’s not the case.
He is proposing the city move a quarter of million dollars from public safety to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
“If funds were to be distributed, in addition to the 500,000, blocks like this throughout the city, not just in the 4th Ward will be able to be revitalized,” said Burton.
The past few years, the Affordable Housing Trust Fund has been getting $500,000 from taxes brought in from the casino.
“That gave us the opportunity then to do projects then with community one, and hope, and cape where before there hadn’t been an allocation to that fund for many years,” said the City of Evansville’s Department of Metropolitan Development Executive Director Kelley Coures. The city does receive federal dollars from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, but Coures explained also getting local tax dollars gives the city more opportunities to help families move into a home of their own. “Any money that goes towards housing for low income families is money well spent, especially when it comes to home buyer properties because the only way for a poor family to accumulate any sort of equity or wealth is through home ownership.”
Burton says filling vacant homes and lots also helps reduce crime.
“Putting money into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund also increases the tax revenue that we are able to generate in the city of Evansville in the middle of a pandemic where funds are getting tight,” Burton explained. He said this amendment is not an attempt to defund the police. “The public safety and the city of Evansville is scheduled to get a 4% increase in their salaries this year in the middle of a pandemic.”
Burton said his proposal would move the same amount of money $250,000 from the Public Safety Local Income Tax back to the police department. He explained this is a small percentage since the public safety income tax has a balance of nearly 3.4 million dollars available.
(This story was originally published on Sept. 15, 2020)