One down: Elam reflects on first year

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 3, 2005

A year ago today, John Elam was a new mayor still getting his feet wet in politics.

With a year of experience under his belt, Elam has become submerged in the new role but emphasized that he likes what has been accomplished and is even more excited about the direction the city is heading.

Several economic development projects are in the works and Elam said he is ready to continue looking at the dollars and cents of the city, a topic that has been often debated in 2004 as the city continues to spend between $300,000 and $500,000 more than it brings in each year.

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Still, Elam looked at the silver lining.

&uot;We operated with less than a 1-percent variance in expenses in the general fund,&uot; Elam said. &uot;I think this shows our dedication and our managers' commitment to maintaining their budgets within our operating parameters.&uot;

Based on the 2004 budget that the Ironton City Council approved in March, the city’s general fund was projected to spend $4,161,581. As of the last adjustment, the fund expended $4,195,684 — only $34,103 more than projected, Elam said.

General fund expenses go to only six places: 71 percent to wages and benefits, 13 percent for operating expenses, 4 percent for transfers to other funds, 9 percent for debt payments for equipment and loans, 2 percent to professional services and 1 percent for contingency.

&uot;(Essentially,) we operated within our budget. Not to say that some departments were over budget overall but the big picture shows that we are committed to the proper management of the city of Ironton,&uot; Elam said. &uot;Much of the credit goes to our committed workforce.&uot;

If it was not for some unforeseen occurrences such as flooding, Elam said he believes the general fund could have stayed within the budget altogether.

Looking ahead to the new year, Elam said he will continue to focus on operational efficiencies such as reducing police overtime by hopefully hiring an additional officer and fine tuning scheduling for all city employees.

Even with a reduced workforce, Elam said the city has been able to provide basic services but it remains a constant juggling act.

&uot;We have been able to maintain our service levels but not always able to do things as expeditiously as we'd like,&uot; he said. &uot;We can’t be everything everyday. We have to prioritize everyday.&uot;