Council Questions if Marion Mayor Can Keep City Afloat Financially (VIDEO)

By Stephanie Parkinson

July 30, 2013 Updated Jul 30, 2013 at 5:32 PM EDT

MARION, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) - Council members for the City of Marion are worried about the city's financial future. The budget committee is questioning if the mayor has the cash on hand to pay the city's bills through the end of 2013.

"I do not feel comfortable with it," said Joselyn Whitticker, Councilwoman At Large, (D) Marion.

"It's all political. As soon as I announced I was running for treasurer these meetings started," said Mayor Wayne Seybold, (R) Marion.

Many members of council are concerned with the city borrowing money to keep a balanced budget.

"At some point, we must pay those loans back, and how are we going to do that," said Whitticker.

The city is using a $3 million loan to offset the deficit caused by a high number of claims on the city's self-insurance last year. The city also uses tax anticipation warrants, like many other cities, to get their tax money in advance.

This month they received $5.3 million from Star Bank in tax anticipation warrants. But something that's out of the ordinary is that there's a letter signing over the city's tax revenue to Star Bank.

"For the mayor to sign a letter like that, and I've talked with some people, that is unusual," said Whitticker.

The Grant County Auditor agrees this is out of the ordinary. He says, of the 37 municipalities in his county, Marion is the only community doing this. He says it started in January. Mayor Seybold insists this is a normal process.

"They're just saying when the check comes in, deposit it directly into the city's account here at Star, as opposed to us getting a check and walking it from here to over there," said Seybold.

As debate continues about whether the city has enough money to finish out 2013 the budget committee is charged with the task of balancing a new budget for 2014.

"That's one reason why we're so concerned with having a zero balance because we have to know just how much we're going to be in debt, or are we going to be even board or whatever," said Henry Smith, (D) Marion City Council.

Of the 5.3 million the city received in tax anticipation warrants from Star Bank this month less than half is left in the bank. The City Controller says the money went to pay bills from June and July.

Each month the city pays out $1.4 million for bills and payroll. They're expected to bring in some additional funds from other areas over the next five months, but an exact number wasn't given by city officials.

"We've been very frugal and very conservative with this budget. We will continue to do that and at the end of the year we'll be able to show you and everybody else what's going on in there today is all political," said Seybold.

Mayor Seybold admits cuts must be made to keep the city on solid ground. He gave the council's budget committee a detailed list of $1.7 million in planned cutbacks before the end of the year.

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