MERRILLVILLE — The town is working to get caught up on contributions to the South Shore expansion project.
Merrillville owes more than $465,000, and that must be paid by the end of the year, said Karl Cender, of Cender and Co.
The municipality hadn't paid the full amount because the Town Council in 2017 voted to decrease Merrillville's annual contribution of its County Economic Development Income Tax proceeds from 22% to 8% for the project.
State legislation prohibits the town from making that change, and Merrillville must pay the more than $465,000 to fulfill its pledge.
Town Council President Richard Hardaway said the municipality plans to use money from reserves in the general fund to become current with the contribution.
“That will eat into our reserves,” Cender said.
After catching up on the contribution, Merrillville will resume providing 22% of its CEDIT funding annually for the project.
As Merrillville works to pay the commitment, town officials also are preparing for the 2020 budget.
Like other local communities, Merrillville will be affected when property tax caps are fully implemented next year.
Cender said estimations show Merrillville will collect about $200,000 less in the general fund because of the circuit breaker.
Health insurance costs have regularly been discussed each year in Merrillville. Cender said he expects those costs to increase again, but he isn't yet certain how much that will be. He is expecting to have an accurate figure in the coming weeks.
The council also is considering providing $1,000 raises to employees in 2020. It would cost the town an additional $132,000 to give salary increases.
As preparations continue for the 2020 budget proposal, the council is expected to have its first reading of the spending plan on Sept. 24. There will be a public hearing for the budget during that session.
The council could adopt the spending plan at its Oct. 8 meeting.