Mayor insists proposed Streetsboro budget remain unchanged

by Mike Lesko | reporter Published:

Streetsboro -- Although some City Council members believe the city's proposed $25.05 million budget for 2013 needs more trimming, Mayor Glenn Broska insists it will remain the same.

"As far as I'm concerned, we can't stand any more cuts," Broska said. "I went through the numbers. I added up the wages, benefits and healthcare payments things we're obligated to have. I added up all the items we absolutely need to survive like maintenance costs, fuel, phones, IT services and items like contractual services for projects we have going on.

"If we cut any more, it will start to affect the services we can offer to the citizens," Broska said. "I don't know where they expect us to cut anything."

Council President Tim Claypoole said the amount in the proposed budget is "outside of my comfort level."

Administration officials hope to promote three employees, which would result in about $23,000 more in total salaries. They include the proposed promotion of a police sergeant to lieutenant, which Police Chief Roy Mosley III said should cost the city about $6,200 more a year; the proposed promotion of a fire lieutenant to executive captain, which Fire Chief Robert Reinholz said should cost the city about $6,000 more a year; and the proposed promotion of a part-time parks and recreation department employee to full-time, which Broska said should cost about $11,000 more a year.

"There are long-term committed expenses," Claypoole said. "It is very hard to cut expenses and remove this spending."

In addition, the city is required to budget about $55,000, which was not included in last year's budget, for a new planning director, following the voter approval last November of a charter review amendment calling for the economic development/planning director position to be split in two.

Council member Julie Field, chair of Council's Finance Committee, said she believes Council should look more at spending than at anticipated revenue.

"We don't know what the revenue will be," Field said. "We need to take it slow."

Claypoole and Field did not return calls for comment regarding follow-up questions about what they would specifically like to see cut from the budget.

Claypoole, Field and Council member John Ruediger voted against suspending the rules Jan. 14, thus allowing the budget to go through additional readings by Council.

"This gives more residents a chance to voice their opinions," Ruediger said Jan. 21. "It's fair to the community to let it go three readings so people can give their opinions, one way or the other."

A projection of a 3.5 percent increase in income tax revenue rather than 4 percent would reduce the so-called deficit spending from $600,000 to about $550,000, officials said. The total projected revenues for the 2013 budget are $23.971 million, Finance Director Mitch Michalec said.

Broska, though, said there "really isn't much to discuss" with City Council regarding the budget.

"We have cut that budget as far as we can and still be able to maintain the services that the citizens of Streetsboro want and deserve," Broska said.

The budget issue was placed on first reading at the Jan. 14 Council meeting. Broska said he is confident there are enough votes on Council to approve the current proposed budget.

The deadline for approving the budget is March 31.

"I'm confident we have at least four votes [out of seven]. It will take three readings [by Council]," Broska said.

The current proposed budget was based on a forecast that income tax revenue would increase by 3.5 percent in 2013. Broska said input came from Michalec and outside financial consultants. A 3.5 percent increase would mean about $50,000 more for the city than a 3 percent increase, city officials said.

Claypoole believes the increase should be closer to 3 percent.

"Three percent is a reasonable number," Claypoole said. "You can increase spending [later on], but it's harder to decrease spending."

Broska said Jan. 17 that he stands behind the forecast of 3.5 percent, which he said is "a very conservative number."

"I believe our revenue increase will be in excess of 5 percent, and 5 percent is highly attainable," Broska said.

The total appropriations in the 2013 proposed budget's general fund is $11.974 million, compared to the total amount appropriated in last year's general fund budget of $13.058 million. The difference is the money budgeted, spent and paid back in the form of a grant for the 116-acre Verna M. Beck property, located in the flood-prone area of Route 303, Michalec said.

Email: mlesko@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9439

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