Portage City Hall

Portage City Hall is pictured. 

PORTAGE — The city needs $1.25 million to get its 2020 city budget balanced.

Recent meetings — with more yet to come — have city administrators searching for ways to come up with more revenue or cut from city departments to even out the budget.

"I've been thinking about the best strategy and way to approach this and there's certainly no easy way to do it, trying to be fair and equitable," said Councilman Scott Williams, D-3rd. "We obviously have to trim the budget if we're going to operate with a balanced budget."

The budget is available for public viewing on the city's website under the Financial Transparency tab. The current draft is from Aug. 28 and reflects most of the most recent changes.

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A public hearing for the first reading of the 2020 budget happened at a recent city council meeting. No public comments were made, but Clerk-Treasurer Chris Stidham explained the state's tax cap and how that number will affect the planning in Portage's budget for next year.

"The difficult thing about these budgets ... is that everything that comes before the budget committee is a worthwhile expendence," Stidham said. "You want to fund everything. It's a matter of prioritizing because at the end of the day, there's only so many dollars to go around."

Many city departments have already gone through their own budgets to cut down what they can, but the committee is looking to make cuts further where feasible. Ideas discussed during a recent meeting with the fire, police and parks departments included increasing an agreement for county ambulance services or even possibly public safety tax similar to Lake County's.

The budget is scheduled for adoption at the Oct. 1 council meeting and the deadline to adopt is Nov. 1.

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Porter County General Assignment Reporter

Emily covers Porter County news and features for The Times. A transplant from NW Ohio to NWI, Emily loves talking to people and hearing their stories. She graduated from the University of Toledo in 2018 and believes all dogs are good dogs.