Residents learn more about South Bend budget process

South Bend residents got a chance to learn more about how they can influence the way the city spends tax dollars Tuesday night.

The Community Forum for Economic Development invited city leaders to explain South Bend's budget process during a presentation at the St. Joseph County Public Library's LaSalle Branch.

Crafting a new budget starts in May and the common council must approve one before Nov. 1.

Controller Mark Neal explained to residents the different funds that make up South Bend's budget and how those funds can be used.

Many residents walked away from the presentation with a greater understanding of how money flows in the city.

"I have an interest in finding out how much is paid by Comcast and how much the city pays WNIT to do public access," said South Bend resident Cherly Ashe. "And, now I know where and how to get that information."

Ashe says she plans to stay engaged in the budget conversation as the process moves forward. And, residents' opinions on what the city's funding priorities should be do have an impact on the final budget.

"Citizen input becomes extremely important as we make the determination as to how some of those monies should be dedicated in part of that annual budget process," Neal said. "So, we strongly encourage citizens to let us know."

Residents will get a chance to weigh in during a series of public hearings on the 2014 budget over the summer.

Neal says the biggest challenge South Bend is facing next year is flat revenues. He says many of the city's tax receipts will remain the same and revenue in some areas will decline. That means the city will have to get creative and become more efficient.

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