City Council says no to 1999 budget

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 27, 1999

Ironton’s 1999 budget will go back to the drawing board as city officials plan a new strategy that will pass Ironton City Council’s scrutiny.

Friday, August 27, 1999

Ironton’s 1999 budget will go back to the drawing board as city officials plan a new strategy that will pass Ironton City Council’s scrutiny.

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Recent budgetary amendments proposed by the city’s administrative offices failed to pass at Thursday’s regular council meeting in a 5 to 2 vote.

Council members Mary Lee Kennedy, Hugh Donald Scott, Jim Tordiff, Leo Ulery and Bob Vaughn voted against the revised budget, while council chairman Jesse Roberts and council member/finance committee chairman Joe Black recorded affirmative votes.

Without a plan of action that will leave the budget with a better final balance, the city could face serious money problems in the near future, Tordiff said.

"In the last year or so we have made long-standing commitments in several areas, such as our police department and our fire department, and I agree with both of those areas," Tordiff said. "But we’re not making any cuts to accommodate those commitments."

Without cutting back in a few areas, the city will not be able to handle its commitments because of the decreases in income tax revenue, Ulery said.

"There’s nothing wrong with the City of Ironton that 500 jobs won’t cure," Ulery told fellow council members. "I’d rather go back and have a budget meeting now and finish things as best we can this year, and then have another look in January, rather than get into trouble."

If the city had passed the budget revisions, which included money for a new street sweeper to replace the city’s broken sweeper that needs about $12,000 in necessary repairs to run again, the year-ending balance would have been dangerously low, Tordiff said.

"I commend the mayor and the finance department for all the hard work they’ve done, and I don’t want anyone to come away from (the meeting) with the impression that I’m pointing fingers or placing blame, because that is not the case," Tordiff said. "This is the same thing I’ve been talking about all along. I think everyone is trying to act in the best interests of the city, but the unfortunate thing is, at least in my opinion, that the money is just not there."

A date has not yet been determined for the budget workshop session, but Ironton Mayor Bob Cleary said he will begin work on the budget immediately.

As 1999 is the first year since 1983 that the tax revenue has actually decreased, meaning the city’s income has dropped by about $70,000, the city will spend a much larger amount of the carryover balance and end the year with very little left over, Tordiff explained.

"The $315,000 projected 1999 expenses in excess of 1999 revenue even becomes more alarming when you consider the fact that our one time reimbursement from he worker’s compensation rebate fund has been transferred to the general fund. This amount totals $234,000," Tordiff said. "If you remove that amount from the $4,227,032 in expected revenue, the projected deficit now becomes $549,123."

In addition, the city finance director has stated that the city may not actually spend about $100,000 of the projected $4,542,155, he said. If that becomes a reality, it would be accurate to subtract that amount from the projected 1999 expenses making the projected excess in expenses over revenue an amount somewhere close to $449,123, Tordiff said.

With other revenue factors, the budget will balance close to zero.

"Please understand I am not blaming the city’s administration or my fellow council members," Tordiff said. "The culprit is our current economy. We have all been hopeful that our revenue estimates were estimated to be lower than they would actually turn out to be."

Tordiff and other dissenting council members asked Cleary to propose budget cuts that might help the city’s balance and agreed to bring their own suggestions for cuts to the meeting when it is scheduled.