Local News

Spending Controls Enacted Without Casino Money

(Michigan City, IN) - Steps to control spending have been taken in Michigan City doing without riverboat money since casinos statewide were ordered closed to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

         The task of avoiding red ink could be daunting since 50-percent of the city’s daily operating budget is funded with proceeds from Blue Chip Casino under the 2020 budget approved last year. 

         Mayor Duane Parry, a longtime critic of the past administration for relying too heavily on casino revenue, said there are cash reserves for the city to dip into to get by for now. 

         Borrowing might have to be done, though, if the lockdown on casinos ordered by the governor March 19 runs for an extended period, he said. 

          “We don’t have any idea how long this is going to last.  We have to be cautious now before all of a sudden we run out of money,” Parry said.

         Parry has imposed a hiring freeze.

         He’s also requiring his signature for any capital expenditure request above $1,000.

         Department heads were ordered to try and reduce or eliminate overtime costs.

         “These are difficult times and difficult times require drastic measures that need to be taken to keep Michigan City operating and to come out of this thing healthy,” he said

         Parry said the city collects just shy of $1 million per month in casino money.

         He said some of that funding for March will go into city coffers in April since casinos weren’t ordered shutdown until about two weeks ago.

         There will no monthly casino money after that until the casinos reopen .

         He’s hoping to stretch the money left in reserves until the lockdown is lifted hopefully by summer when the lakefront community relies more on tourism.

         “If it goes on long enough we’ll have to borrow money.  We don’t want to do that if we can.  Our resources are not incredibly deep,” he said

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