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STATEWIDE — Many cities, towns, and other municipalities throughout Indiana got a cash windfall of pandemic help in both 2020 and 2021.

As we progress further through the pandemic, experts are hoping that local leaders are mindful of how they use that money and to not budget for things they may not be able to afford down the road into 2022.

“Even though we’ve been given a lot of money from the federal government, this was a one-time shot,” said Matt Greller, the head of Accelerating Indiana’s Municipalities. “This is really good right now on paper. But, inflation is coming. A lot of economists are predicting downturns and things of that nature, so I think we want to be prepared for that when that time comes.”

He says the same goes for state lawmakers as well. Though this session is not a budget session, Greller tells Indy Politics that he hopes lawmakers take into account the windfall from pandemic relief when they craft a new state budget next year.

Greller also observes that the change in the financial climate in smaller cities and towns has been a learning experience this year, especially with the worker shortage.

“We’re seeing a lot of cities and towns go through compensation studies and really do some self-examination to better compete for the workforce,” he said. “I hope, while it’s a struggle now, it will work out better for everybody.”

Greller said the greater incentive to compete for workers will force local municipalities to rethink and relearn how they pay workers, resulting in higher wages and better benefits.