City budget projects deficit spending


(Posted Nov. 11, 2015)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Based on the proposed budget and projections for 2016, the city of London will bring in less money than it spends next year.

On Nov. 5, city council held a first reading on the proposed budget which, if passed as-is, will result in projected deficit spending of $337,000. The deficit spending for 2015 was $260,000. The proposed general fund total for next year is $4.198 million.

Councilman Rex Castle said the spending increases can be attributed to a variety of factors, including adjustments for pay and step increases for city employees, a 10 percent hike in health insurance costs, and a 25 percent increase in worker’s compensation costs.

Other factors include covering salaries and benefits to bring the police department to full strength and a 20 percent increase for the street department due to one-time retirement costs and an overrun on part-time hours, making some employees eligible for health insurance benefits.

Castle challenged the next administration to better monitor such part-time hour situations to prevent increase salary costs.

The budget will be discussed at council’s finance committee meeting at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 16 in council chambers, 6 E. Second St., London.

Councilman Trint Hatt called for attendance from all council members at the committee meeting. About the budget, he said, “It’s moving in the wrong direction, I think.”

The budget ordinance will be up for a second reading at council’s next regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 19.

ODOT garage

Council decided to decline an opportunity to purchase the former Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) garage on U.S. Route 42 in London. The asking price was $250,000.

While Steve Hume, the city’s safety-service director, said the building would be an asset that would increase the street department’s efficiency, council members said now is not the time to make such a purchase.

Councilman Trint Hatt noted that the city’s proposed general fund budget for 2016 projects a $300,000 deficit. Councilman Steve Scaggs said the city already struggles with maintenance costs on existing city-owned properties. Citing other potential facilities projects, councilman Jason Schwaderer noted that a recent inspection set a ballpark cost of $250,000 to $300,000 to move all city offices into part of the former school facilities located on Walnut Street.

Mayor insurance

In September, Councilman Dick Minner introduced legislation to grant health insurance coverage as part of the mayor’s compensation package. At the Nov. 5 meeting, he and the rest of council ended up voting the measure down.

Before the vote, Mayor David Eades, whose term ends this year, said the idea raises many questions. Among those he asked were: How many other elected positions in the city might also be eligible?; Can the city afford the added expense when preparing another deficit budget?; Had such an ordinance been passed last year, would more people have been interested in running for the office of mayor?

He also asked, “What are your priorities? Putting the money in the hands of politicians, or taking care of the employees of the community as a whole?” He said the whole idea required more investigation.

Councilman Rex Castle commented that Eades made some “valid points.”

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