Just when we thought the county's property tax nightmare was nearing an end, a bombshell dropped. Michigan City is facing another massive shortfall and will need to find ways to make up the lost money.
This will, undoubtedly, mean cuts of some kind. Talking with Mayor Ron Meer at Tuesday's meeting of the Michigan City Common Council, the angst on his face was apparent. It was clear to me that this latest issue had taken a bit of a toll on him.
No Mayor wants to have to figure out how to cut about 12 percent out of a budget that was already hacked to pieces by shortfalls. It's an unenviable position. It's what he signed up for, yes, but still, I wouldn't want to be him right now.
During Tuesday's meeting, though, he said something that I was already thinking. Authoritatively, Meer indicated that all options — every single one — was on the table. They're looking at everything. No stone will remain unturned.
To that end, it's important to remember over the following days and weeks that, until you hear an official announcement, take rumors for precisely what they are — rumors.
Especially in the social media age, rumors spread like wildfire. "I heard from someone who knows someone" becomes a popular phrase.
And hey, stakes are high right now. Jobs are on the line, so people are going to be naturally curious about what's going on in the budget talks.
That's fine. People have a right to be concerned. But I think of this the way I think of trade rumors in sports.
Every year, it seems like there's "that guy" who is always the subject of a trade rumor. He gets asked about it every day. His teammates get asked about it every day. And every year, the trade deadline comes and goes and "that guy" is still on the roster. He didn't go anywhere.
Management says the right things, talks about his value to the organization and all of that is probably true. Of course, that doesn't mean that talks weren't had about that player. They absolutely were, whether management admits it or not.
Talks were had because it's the responsibility of that team's ownership and management to constantly explore all avenues to improve the team. Even if it means potentially trading a star player, all things must be considered.
Similarly, Meer and the rest of the city leaders are tasked with making the city the best place it can possibly be. What that means in the wake of a budget shortfall is making cuts that will do the least amount of harm to quality of life in Michigan City.
So, yes, everything will be discussed. Every single department and, probably, every single employee and expense. It'll all be looked at. But, just because it's discussed doensn't necessarily mean it will ultimately be affected.
We'll know when we know.
Contact Managing Editor Adam Parkhouse at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-219-214-4170.