City Council to debate budget ideas

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 28, 2005

Budget battles will likely be the main event at tonight's Ironton City Council meeting as the clock ticks.

Council must have a 2005 budget in place by Tuesday but so far the group remains far apart on an agreed plan. Two different documents are on the agenda and will likely be the focus of much of the debate as the city continues to look at ways to address its spending deficit of nearly $500,000 each year.

A proposals sponsored by councilmen Jim Tordiff and Chuck O'Leary show the city with $4.22 million in revenue as opposed to $4.21 million in expenses. By adopting a balanced budget, the city

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could then use some of its $543,177 carryover for equipment replacement.

"We feel like we are cut back as far as we can go," Tordiff said. "… It was very important to us to show one year's revenue equals one year's expenses."

To do so, they included revenue that would be generated by a $15 per month, per household fee this year. The additional revenue allows the plan to include hiring three additional police officers, two street workers, to keep the swimming pool open and keep the parking meter department in place.

Tordiff said he and O'Leary spent nearly 12 hours working on the document, knowing the whole time that it will be moot if council does not pass the fee. The body has voted down several forms of the fee in the past.

"I think we are obligated to do this," Tordiff said. "No matter how futile it is, you have to present your side of the story."

The other proposal, sponsored by Jesse Roberts and Brent Pyles, focuses more on cuts. The plan would eliminate the building code officer and the flood/street/sanitation superintendent positions. It would also remove the parking meter department.

It also includes a $3 per month fee that would be used to fund the floodwall system since voters nixed the tax levy in November.

Overall, the plan reflects $3.55 million in revenue against $3.92 in expenses, spending more than $300,000 of the city's carryover.

Other items on the agenda include several ordinances to allow the Ohio Department of Transportation to move forward with construction of a new Ironton-Russell Bridge, the final readings of the $15 fee and also of the $3 fee

and a variety of other issues.