City leaders need to compromise on budget

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Tribune staff

As the city of Ironton heads into the 11th hour, both the mayor and city council members are certain a budget will be approved before the March 31 deadline. How that budget will look, however, is still up in the air.

The Ironton Finance Committee met Monday in an hour and half executive session to discuss the city's budget. On Thursday, City Council will take a look at two budgets - one drafted by Mayor Bob Cleary and recommended by Council Chairman Jesse Roberts and another proposal recommended by councilmen Brent Pyles and Richard Price. The biggest differences in the budgets are salary levels and a few line items. While each person has his own idea on how to best balance the budget, finding the right formula will be a challenge.

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Making revenue projections will be particularly difficult. The state's current budget crisis and the threat of more lost money to cities through potential cuts to the local government funds only complicates the task. Last month, the Ohio House voted to cut local government funds by up to $30 million over the next four months, so the amount of state help Ironton can expect is still unclear.

The responsibility of our elected officials is to deliver the city a balanced budget. Not everyone is going to like it, but the hard fact is expenses and revenue must

match in the end. A few cuts and scrapes may be necessary along the way.

One thing is certain - unrealistic budgeting guarantees adequate resources and manpower to effectively run the city will be gone before the year is up. Setting a budget based on overly optimistic revenue and cost projections will not work. Nor will basing a budget on the most-likely or worst-case scenarios.

No matter how you look at it, the city's budget will not be an ideal one. Somewhere along the line non-essential expenses need to be pared.

Council members and the mayor need to put differences aside and come up with a compromise that will not only balance the budget, but will do so with minimal impact to the services provided to the people of Ironton. They cannot get caught up in trying to make everyone happy.