City faces daunting financial hurdles

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 26, 2004

Tribune editorial board

Unfortunately, Ironton taxpayers must face the fact that the cost of living in the city is about to increase.

Regardless of whether or not the city's leadership opts to adopt one of the municipal fee options that have been bantered about, something has to give, soon.

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For several months the city has spun its wheels on two critical hurdles it must overcome: The estimated $500,000 gap in the city's budget for this year and an EPA-mandated combined sewer overflow plan.

The budget gap has been reported on extensively. Whether or not the expected gap will be as deep as originally predicted is not known.

But what is known is the city started out its year expecting to take in less money than it planned to pay out, taking the deficit from the city's carryover or savings account. The only problem is once the carryover is spent, city leaders will have nowhere else to go in order to get extra money, no where, that is, except the taxpayers. Now, in fairness, they could certainly cut services or operate more efficiently and save some funding, but either way, the solution to the shortfall will almost certainly affect the taxpayers, either in their pocketbooks or the services they receive.

That's one problem, the budget deficit.

The next fiscal problem facing the city is the combined sewer overflow plan.

Essentially the Environmental Protection Agency has mandated that the city create a plan to determine how much polluted water overflows into the Ohio River from the city's combined storm water sewers and how to minimize the amount.

Just creating the plan is estimated to cost approximately $860,000.

Implementing that plan is estimated to cost up to $20 million over the next 20 years. Just roughly assuming that the figure equates to $1 million per year, the city is faced with a daunting task. At that amount, and with the city's current level of municipal income tax, the city would need to add 2,000 new jobs, each paying $50,000 per year in order to generate an additional million. The time for feuding over how we do something is now. We need to put our heads together for the betterment of the city before it winds up completely bankrupt.