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COVID money, income tax revenues aiding Portage's financial recovery, according to clerk-treasurer

Joey BLS Photography website

Portage officials say the city's financial situation continues to improve. Clerk-Treasurer Nina Rivas says federal COVID funding has helped reduce the amount the city's had to borrow through temporary loans.

"Over the last three-and-a-half years, the city has received an influx of cash of over $22 million, not that we have that available to spend, but it shows how bad the city deficit actually really was coming into 2020," Rivas told the city council Tuesday.

She said the city had to borrow almost $10.7 million in tax anticipation warrants in 2019. Now, that's down to $2.4 million.

At the same time, Portage has seen a sharp increase in local income tax revenue. Rivas said the city's most recent supplemental distribution totaled about $738,000, almost four times what it's been in past years.

"The budget committee decided that they wanted to send to the full council to give the park [department] $300,000 of that supplemental LIT distribution," Rivas added.

Mayor Sue Lynch said the city's redevelopment commission has also been more responsible with its spending. Because of that, it was able to give $75,000 each to the police, fire and parks departments.

"This is what happens when you have a healthy redevelopment commission, and you use the monies the way you're supposed to," Lynch told council members.

But Portage continues to borrow at least some money. The city recently issued about $5.8 million in bonds for equipment costs. The goal is to save some of the city's share of federal American Rescue Plan money for other uses.