Mishawaka to be debt-free by the end of 2014

Mishawaka, Ind. Mishawaka will hit a major milestone by the end of the year.

For the first time in more than a century, the city will be debt free.

It's part of a plan outlined by Mayor Dave Wood in 2012 to make the city more 'lean and mean.'

But, Mishawaka still faces some fiscal challenges in the year ahead. Because of circuit breaker tax caps and an increase in insurance costs, the city lost $3.6 million from its general fund in 2013.

And, proposals downstate could force the city to take an even bigger hit in 2014.

Gov. Mike Pence wants to get rid of the business personal property tax, which helps fund cities and schools.

Wood says if the tax is eliminated, it could impact Mishawaka's budget by as much as 16 percent.

"There's no way we could possibly afford that," he said. "That goes straight to services."

The council voted unanimously Monday to approve a resolution expressing their opposition to the elimination of the tax. They're one of several groups across the state hoping to send a strong message to Indy.

"I find it highly ironic the state is eager to cut this tax, which impacts us, while they're discussing ways to grow their budget with new programs," Wood said.

On the positive side, Wood says major crimes in Mishawaka decreased in 2013. That includes homicides, rapes, assaults, burglaries and car thefts.

The city plans to spend money on adding a new police beat downtown and along the River Walk. They've already purchased a new vehicle that will make it easier to patrol the pedestrian-friendly areas.

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