Revised budget needs more discussion

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 9, 2003

The Ironton Finance Committee on Monday was unable to adopt an amended 2003 budget but did recommend legislation that may boost city coffers and promote economic development.

The budget has been a hot topic recently as overruns in two city departments -- the health department and the police department -- were the focus of last week's budget workshop. Both are projected to be about $20,000 over budget if the trends from the first eight months of the year continue.

Overall, the budget looks to be in good shape except for these few areas, Mayor Bob Cleary said.

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Finance Committee Member Brent Pyles said the reworked budget proposal was not recommended to council at this time because it needs more examination, primarily the budget for the health department that has not generated the revenue expected.

"There are still some questions that need to be answered in regards to the numbers," Pyles said. "We were unable to come up with a consensus so it will take some more discussion on that."

The Health Fund was budgeted at $113,531 for 2003, compared to $72,000 last year.

However, projections show that the department may still be $22,558 short of what is needed by the end of the year.

Several factors have contributed to the deficit including a miscommunication in scheduling for the past nine months that has allowed the department to offer clinical services only three days a week and a $5,400 increase in basic operating expenses. These figures may be misleading because the health department brings in most of its revenue during the last quarter of the year when people need athletic physicals, shots, screenings and vaccinations.

The meeting was filled with a good exchange of ideas but it would have been premature to recommend the amended budget to council at this time, Pyles said.

Cleary also proposed an ordinance to sell a parking lot on the corner of 5th and Park streets. Several potential clients have shown interest in the lot that takes up about a quarter of the block, he said.

Several requirements are outlined in the sealed bid package including a minimum bid of $210,000, any development can only be for commercial development, it must have a total value of at least $500,000 including the property and must be completed within two years, Cleary said.

Some of the potential clients have said they would invest significantly more and this is just another way the city is hoping to stimulate economic growth, he said.

The committee also recommended to council legislation that will renew the lease of the Depot building to the Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce for two five-year terms.

The city owns the property but the Chamber has leased the property for years. The city and the chamber hope to find a new tenant soon.