South Bend's mayor addressed the common council and residents Monday night to share some good news about the city's finances. The city took in more money than it spent in 2012.
And it earned a AA rating from Standard and Poors, making it Indiana's top-ranked city for credit worthiness.
For several South Bend residents who came to the meeting, however, the good news was overshadowed by the problems they're facing in their own homes.
When the ethanol plant stopped pumping millions of gallons of water out of the ground a day, that water then ended up raising the water table.
There were several emotional testimonies from people who live near the bankrupt New Energy ethanol plant. Their homes are continuing to experience problems related to the higher water table. They're dealing not only with flooding in their basements, but also problems related to the increased moisture inside their homes caused by the flooding.
"There's mold. I clean the mold. It comes back," said Linda Cole, who lives in a home near the former ethanol plant. "I went to mold class. I've done what they've told me to do. I've got mold three feet up in my bedroom. Eight feet up in my basement."
The mayor said the people who live near the former ethanol plant have done everything that has been asked of them.
"These people did nothing wrong. It's not their fault. They did everything that was asked of them," said South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. "I'm going to do everything we can--everything we responsibly can--as a city to try to make sure we're there for them, connect them up to resources that will help get them the latest information and see what we can do from an engineering perspective too."
The mayor said even though this is technically not the city's problem, the flooding of the homes in the Calvert Street neighborhood is something the administration talks about every day and is greatly concerned about.
The director of the city's public works committee brought up a possible solution Monday night. Oliver Davis said the neighborhood is near the airport's TIF district, and that money earmarked for re-development near the airport might be used to build more wells that could help lower the water table.
"As we talk about the vacant and abandoned homes program that's going to be released in a few more weeks from the mayor's office we have to consider using some of those dollars. That's a million dollars and we have to consider using some of those dollars so this whole neighborhood doesn't become vacant and abandoned," said Davis.
The mayor did not comment specifically about the TIF re-development funds as a possible solution to the neighborhood's woes. He said the city does not want to make any promises at this point it might not be able to keep, and the administration will continue to explore all options.