No reallocation of ambulance billing fees included in approval of 2014 Streetsboro budget

by Mike Lesko | Reporter Published:

Streetsboro -- City Council decided against transferring $200,000 from the general fund to the Bond Retirement Fund, resulting in a projected 2014 year-end balance of $122,452 in the bond retirement fund, according to Finance Director Jenny Esarey.

The city administration had previously proposed reallocating revenue from the city's ambulance billing fees to the general fund budget, but Council decided against it.

"With that one adjustment [using the bond retirement fund instead of the ambulance billing fund], the administration's budget passed unanimously [March 24]," said Council member Tim Claypoole.

The general fund's spending plan is about $10.904 million for 2014, city officials said.

Claypoole said reallocating money from the ambulance billing fees, which was the administration's preference, could put the city "at risk for future ambulance and fire truck purchases and risk the safety of our residents. Though the fire chief [Robert Reinholz] said it would be OK for a short period without it affecting his department, I did not want to come close to that time frame and risk not being able to properly equip the fire department. I was not willing to take that risk."

Mayor Glenn Broska said the safety of the residents "was never in jeopardy."

"Prior to becoming mayor, I served for over 20 years as a firefighter," Mayor Glenn Broska said. "The safety of our residents is a cause near to my heart."

Esarey agreed.

She said the bond retirement fund is "a debt service fund that is used to pay down the city's debt, which includes required annual principal and interest payments. All fund balances could change annually, due to income received and approved expenditures."

Currently, 40 percent of the money from ambulance billing fees goes to the city's general fund, while 60 percent goes into the fire/ambulance improvement fund.

If Council had approved the reallocation of ambulance billing fees from March to December 2014 as the administration proposed, 92 percent of the revenue from ambulance fees would have gone to the general fund, while 8 percent would have been allocated to the fire/ambulance improvement fund. The change would have been in effect only for the remainder of 2014, then it would have automatically gone back to the 60/40 formula.

On March 24, Council approved the city's 2014 permanent budget. The total appropriations for all funds is about $22.049 million.

Email: mlesko@recordpub.com

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