September 20, 2014

Elyria
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Officials want Lorain out of fiscal watch

LORAIN — Lorain’s mayor and auditor want the city to be taken off fiscal watch.
In a letter sent to state Auditor Mary Taylor on Monday, Mayor Craig Foltin and Auditor Ron Mantini asked Taylor to lift the fiscal watch designation that was placed on the city in 2002. The letter states that the issues that put the city in fiscal watch are no longer relevant and the city’s projected deficit will be erased by 2010.
“The fiscal watch should be lifted because  a plan has been in place addressing the deficit, the deficit is steadily declining, we received a performance audit and implemented its recommendations and we clearly do not meet the legal criteria anymore,” the letter states.
Included in the letter is a five-year estimate of the general fund that Mantini created in April, which shows the fund containing a positive $96,899 by the end of fiscal year 2010. It currently has a $1.3 million deficit.
Mantini said having that stigma of fiscal watch has hurt the city.
“It affects financing,” he said. “It hinders us with the rates financial institutions charge us when lending us money, and I suppose it could also affect businesses coming here because services have to be cut if we don’t have the money.”
The letter also cites the redevelopment of the former Ford Motor Co.’s Lorain Assembly Plant, opening of The Pipe Yard baseball stadium, the Brad Friedel Soccer Academy and an increased bond rating by Moody’s Investors Service in April.
Lorain was placed in fiscal watch when it reported more than a $2 million deficit, according to Emily Frazee, spokeswoman for the state Auditor’s Office. Since then, the state auditor has conducted reviews of the city’s finances and helped the city get on track.
Frazee said the office will review the city’s financial situation and determine if the label should be removed. She said the length of time before this happens depends on how much research is needed into Lorain’s finances.
Contact Adam Wright at 329-7151 or awright@chroniclet.com.