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Council to ask citizens about budget concern

Ironton residents will soon get a chance to see how income tax revenue and various fees affect services provided by the city and offer suggestions on how to increase revenues.

Wednesday, October 25, 2000

Ironton residents will soon get a chance to see how income tax revenue and various fees affect services provided by the city and offer suggestions on how to increase revenues.

The Ironton City Council Finance Committee is handling the program, which is designed to educate citizens about the city budget and how it works, Councilman Leo Ulery said.

But input from the community is just as important, Ulery said.

"What we need to do is get the feel of the public," he said. "We need to start holding a series of public education meetings because I don’t think a lot of the people realize what we’re up against."

He said the city is required to maintain a certain standard within the police and fire departments as well as several other departments. He said council – and the citizens – must make some choices about city services.

"I think the general public thinks the town is always going to go on, and I’m sure it will," he said. "But, to what magnitude will it go on. That’s what needs to be addressed."

Council chairman Jim Tordiff said providing residents with budget facts will better prepare voters if a temporary fee or tax issue appears on March ballots.

"I think it’s obvious to anyone that if the money coming in is not greater than or equal to money going out, changes will have to be made," he said. "I don’t think it would be fair to the citizens to just wake up one morning and read in the paper that their city services were going to be cut without first being given a chance to provide input."

He said one solution may be a temporary revenue increase.

Ulery said a maintenance fee might be a fair solution.

"I don’t pay income tax anymore because I’m retired," Ulery said. "It may be such a thing as let the people vote on an income tax, but that may not help much because of people like me. Just in my neighborhood, there is only one individual that is not retired. If we assess a maintenance fee, everyone chips in. I definitely think the public needs to discuss it with us."

Tordiff said public input will take place in the near future.

"It’s not that we’re any more intelligent than anyone else because we’re not," Tordiff said. "Right now, we just have the facts and we want to share those facts with the public."

He said several public officials, small business owners and various other citizens will soon be asked to join a committee, which will be educated on the budget and be responsible for holding several public meetings on the matter.

"The committee list will be finalized in the near future," he said. "We’re not trying to avoid this and we are trying to get this situation out of the red, but there are other actions we must take to do that."

Councilman Jesse Roberts said the issue needs to be placed on the forefront in the near future.

"Right now, we’re living on carry-over balances and the sale of assets, but we’re not going to have that next year," he said. "During these meetings, I think we have to address concerns that are imminent. I think current expenses and the city’s monetary problems need to be addressed. If the people want to maintain the same level of service we have now, then there are several issues they need to consider."