July 24, 2014

Elyria
Partly sunny
72°F
test

Lorain City Council approves $31.6 million budget

LORAIN — City Council members on Monday unanimously approved a $31.6 million budget.

The budget includes no raises or new positions, but some new hires may be made for unfilled positions. Mayor Chase Ritenauer said after the council meeting that while Lorain could use more Street Department workers and police — Lorain’s workforce has decreased from about 600 workers to 450 employees in the last decade — the budget was reasonable given the hard economic times.

Lorain has lost about $4 million in state taxpayer funding since 2009, and austerity measures in Washington, D.C., have reduced federal taxpayer grant money. Passage of a levy in 2012 that raises $5.3 million annually allowed Lorain to increase Street Department workers from 14 to 21 last year. Lorain has about 95 police officers.

Ritenauer vowed to be “very watchful and mindful” of the budget. The budget includes a $1 million rainy-day fund and a projected year-end surplus of $229,000.

The budget includes a $3.5 million hospitalization fund, an increase of 15 percent from last year’s fund. The fund pays for city workers’ health care and Lorain officials said they had a large amount of claims last year and needed to bolster the fund.

However, Councilman Brian Gates, D-1st Ward, said the increase was excessive. Gates unsuccessfully tried to reduce the increase to 9 percent, which would have put the fund at about $3.3 million.

“We’re leaving a lot of money in that fund that could and should be allocated in other areas,” Gates said after the meeting. “We have plenty of needs in the city.”

In other business:

  • Council approved seeking bids for $9.6 million in street repairs. Work is expected to begin in June and conclude in October or November. Ritenauer said about $12 million in road upgrades will be done this year.
  • Ritenauer said he will accept a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today. The money will be for stormwater treatment west of Lakeview Park to comply with federal clean water laws to reduce bacteria and ecoli levels in Lake Erie.
  • Council approved renewing the contract with Berresford LLC, a brokerage company, to remove steel byproducts from the former RTI Steel site on East 28th Street. Lorain gets between 10 percent and 11 percent of profits from byproduct removal and is projected to receive about $725,000 this year. Councilman Eddie Edwards, D-5th Ward, said Lorain officials need to do a better job of monitoring scales that weigh the byproducts before they’re trucked out. “We’re letting the fox guard the henhouse,” he said.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.

  • GreatRedeemer

    “The budget includes a $3.5
    million hospitalization fund, an increase of 15 percent from last year’s fund.
    The fund pays for city workers’ health care and Lorain officials said they had
    a large amount of claims last year and needed to bolster the fund.”

    One politician wants to fund it anther wants to use the money elsewhere. This is unsustainable, nor unique toLorain. Its high time that government employees contribute the same the private sector does to healthcare and save the taxpayers some money..

    • Sis Delish

      Amen. But, every dollar government employees get comes from Taxpayers. So, shifting from one pocket to the other really does nothing to decrease the cost to Taxpayers.

      The time has come for the Public Sector to divorce itself from Cadillac Health Plans Those were put in place when actual salaries and compensation for working in the Public Sector fell well below the same occupations as in the Private Sector.

      The Benefits Packages were an attempt to level the playing field, provide jobs for a second bread-winner in the family primarily to access the better “Benefits” and were designed in an era when all could be afforded by low un-employment in the Steel and Automotive Industries which used to provide the City of Lorain ample tax revenues.

      • golfingirl

        So why not simply enroll them into the Affordable Care Act?

        450 employees X $2500 (What we were told we would all save by Obama) = $1,125,000.00 in savings.

        Is my math incorrect? Or did the President not tell the truth? Has to be my math, the president would never mislead us.

        The cost should have gone down approximately 1/3, but instead it has risen 15%?

        I don’t understand. I am lost. What has happened?

        Tell me please, the leader of our great country would never lie to us, would he?

        Oh well, at least I can still keep my doctor! Thank God for that. I know he would not have said it if it wasn’t true.

  • Daniel Sutter

    The citizens in Lorain voted overwhelmingly for obama more then once. City workers should get obama Care (it’s what they voted for). I would do this not to teach a lesson, but to ensure the democrats are not hypocrites. Ohhh, doesn’t work that way… HYPOCRITES

    • GreatRedeemer

      The majority of Lorain City employees and school employees do not live in Lorain. Many go home to paved roads, good schools and low crime.

      • Daniel Sutter

        Fine, large majority of Lorain County and norther Ohio voted for obama twice. I say give the people what they voted for.

  • stillsleepyeyes

    1 mill rainy day fund………lmao…..translation…………..gardwennie’s slush fund…………………