Lights out for Muncie? - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Lights out for Muncie?

Updated:
Councilman Sam Marshall Councilman Sam Marshall
Chris Proffitt/Eyewitness News

Delaware County - It could be lights out, or at least half of the street lights in Muncie as the cash-strapped city looks for ways to save money. Under a proposal this week, the city hopes to save $300,000 a year by shutting off many of its street lights.

There are nearly 4,000 street lights in Muncie but under a new proposal, around half will go dark in January to save on the city's electric bill.

"The reduced tax money coming into cities has to be made up somewhere and services is the only thing we can make it up with," said Sam Marshall, Muncie City Council member.

Councilman Sam Marshall made the proposal this week that would turn off every other street light in the city except at busy intersections and thoroughfares. The goal is to halve the city's electrical costs for its street lights from $630,000 to $315,000. The city has struggled with budget deficits that forced the closing of fire stations and police and fire lay-offs.

The City Council cut Muncie's street light budget on Monday and the lights could be shut off as soon as January.

Muncie would join cities like Merrillville, Indiana in shutting off half of its street lights to save money. The cities maintain that they are forced to take creative measures to bolster their budgets.

"It's terrible out here without any lights," said George Forshee, Muncie resident.

Yet there are concerns that turning off street lights will only encourage crime.

"I think there's other ways to save money because what's going to happen is when you turn the street lights off, crime's going to double," he predicted.

Proponents say reducing costs like electricity can help the city rehire furloughed police officers and firefighters.

"If we can reduce electricity to help open this fire station back up, then that's what we want to do," said Marshall.

The recession is leaving Muncie and cash-strapped cities like it from California to Massachusetts looking for any way to save a dollar even if it means they're darker at night.

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