September 21, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria to slash $1.7 million from budget

ELYRIA — City employees will have to contend with a little less money being available for overtime this year as city officials are proposing to cut the overtime budget by at least 10 percent in every department as they attempt to carve $1.7 million from the 2013 budget.

Mayor Holly Brinda presented the final 2013 appropriations of the general fund — roughly $29.2 million — Monday night and said the budget is much less than what city department heads said was needed to run the city. With the repeal of the estate tax, cuts in the local government fund, a dip in income tax due to layoffs in the city and the cost of tearing down the former City Hall on Broad Street, Brinda said the city has roughly $1.7 million less to work with this year.

“The city is running pretty lean right now, so it becomes a question of how do we reallocate resources to best maximize the revenue,” she said. “Hopefully, people will see we are trying to spend our resources as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

The budget presented Monday to the Finance Committee did not include a breakdown of how the city will use the
$3.4 million windfall it received earlier this year from the state’s unclaimed funds office. The city has placed the money in the bank until City Council officials come up with a spending plan. Until then, officials have decided not to use the windfall to pay for normal budget matters that can’t be continued next year when that money is not there.

“Whenever Council decides how to spend it, we will set it up in a special fund so everyone can see the accounting of all the money,” said Finance Director Ted Pileski.

In addition to less overtime, Brinda recommended reducing office operations by 10 percent in all departments and denied 90 percent of the requests for capital improvements.

“We are only filling those requests that are truly necessary,” she said.

Pileski said the city is budgeted right up to what is expected to come in as revenue. What remains is a mere $41.

Despite cutting $1.7 million from the budget, employees were saved because of the efforts in 2012 to bring in additional revenue. Adding more than $1.2 million to the bottom line last year helped the city meet the budget this year, Brinda said.

“Trying to control cost all year really helped out,” she said.

Finance Committee Director Vic Stewart, D-at large, said the city will have to examine what to do about the capital improvement requests that were denied. But it’s obvious this year’s budget could not handle additional spending.

“It was a pretty lean budget, but we had to manage and make the cuts,” Stewart said.

Brinda said there may be more cuts this year as the city is weeks away from getting a performance audit back from the state auditor’s office.

“I do anticipate that we will have to do more cuts,” she said. “I’m certain we will end up implementing some of the recommendations from the performance audit.”

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.