(Posted Nov. 14, 2019)
By Andrew Garrett, Staff Writer
London city council held the first reading on the city’s proposed 2020 operating budget at it Nov. 7 meeting.
The proposed budget is a deficit budget and, at least on paper, will put the city in the red by approximately $763,000 after figuring in expected revenues.
The city estimates next year’s operating expenses will total in excess of $4.4 million. This includes an average 4.45 percent increase in spending across all departments. Operating expenses include such things as employee salaries, insurance benefits, retirement benefits, supplies and utilities.
Council will hold a second reading on the budget legislation at their Nov. 21 meeting. In the meantime, city leaders will discuss the budget further in an upcoming finance committee meeting.
Mayor Pat Closser and Safety Service Director Joe Mosier stressed that while it is a deficit budget, that does not mean there will be deficit spending. According to Closser, every budget for the last nine years he has been associated with city government has had a proposed deficit.
“It is a deficit budget as many government budgets are. We have always had a deficit budget but have never deficit spent,” he said. “We overestimate expenses and underestimate revenue. My administration keeps a watchful eye on the budget, and this year is no different regarding spending tax dollars effectively and efficiently.”
Also left on for another reading was legislation that calls for an increase in pay ranges for employees of the city’s parks and recreation department. Josh Rice, local chapter president of the AFSCME union, was on hand again to express his concerns.
Rice said certain positions in the parks and recreation department are doing work previously done by the street department which is manned entirely by union members. By extension, Rice contends that those positions should be made bargaining unit positions.
Administration and council members disagreed, saying such concerns should have been addressed when the parks and recreation positions were initially separated from the street department. The window to contest has long been closed, they said.
In other business, council passed an amendment to the official zoning map, allowing rezoning of the former Kmart property on Lafayette Street from a business district to a planned unit development.
Council also approved a $5,000 payment to Heritage Ohio to provide recommendations on how to improve downtown London and link up with the organization for other benefits.
Finally, council voted to vacate an alley running from North Oak Street through North Madison Road.