City must continue to watch expenses

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 5, 2000

Ironton City Council will receive recommendations Thursday from finance committee members concerning a projected 2001 budget.

Friday, May 05, 2000

Ironton City Council will receive recommendations Thursday from finance committee members concerning a projected 2001 budget.

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At a budget session Thursday, finance committee members determined the city’s financial state, while better than expected, remains worse than city officials hoped.

"The purpose of this meeting was to accept from the finance director the budget predictions for the remainder of this year and into next year," said Jim Tordiff, council and finance committee chairman. "Based on income tax estimates, which were better than anticipated, as well as the $121,500 proceeds from the McPherson Street property sales and realistic expenditure estimates, we show a $200,000 shortage as of December 2001 in our projections."

While this estimate is an improvement over previous predictions, it leaves the city in a less-than-desirable financial situation –  one that must be closely monitored now to avoid disaster later, Tordiff added.

"It still is an issue that we will have to address," he said. "By that I mean we don’t want to get too far into the 2000 budget and still have cuts to be made but not enough time for those cuts to be meaningful in next year’s budget."

Although these predictions reflect the worse-case scenario, the city’s financial situation is one that could, realistically, call for additional budget cuts, whether in funding or employees.

"Unless we conserve and keep an eye on the budget, we’re going to end up looking at a major reduction of employment in this city," finance director Cindy Anderson said. "We’ve got to live within our budget. We’ve got more debt than we have money."

After entering 2000 with a 1999 carryover balance of about $600,000, the city is projected to end the fiscal year with that original carryover all but depleted, Tordiff said.

"The problem, as I see it, is that we as a council basically agreed and voted to deplete a $600,000 carryover just to meet our basic financial needs," Tordiff said. "It’s not necessarily the budget that’s the problem as it is the carryover, so all the changes proposed are reductions in expenditures."

Some of the proposed changes –  none of which become active without council action – will not please residents, but they could become necessary.

"We’re going to have to take a hard look, and it’s not going to be a popular look, at how much work we are doing for the people of this town in the form of city services," councilman and committee member Leo Ulery said.

Finance committee will recommend Thursday that council accept only the documents with the proposed changes and budget projections and that they continue to watch the budget very closely.

Council meets at 6 p.m. Thursday on the third floor of the Ironton City Center.