GIRARD Decline in income tax revenue adds to city's financial woes

Council moved to a second reading a moratorium on pay raises, except for employees under contract.
GIRARD -- With the city already in fiscal emergency, income tax revenue is on the decline.
"We continue to bleed," Treasurer John Martin told city council Monday night.
Last Wednesday, state Auditor Jim Petro declared the city in fiscal emergency because it defaulted on debt obligations and has fund deficits.
Martin told lawmakers that the first seven months of tax revenue this year is down about $89,500, compared with the first seven months of 2000.
During the first seven months in 2000, Martin explained, the city collected $2,289,989. This year, it has taken in $2,200,467.
Martin said he has referred 50 delinquent tax cases to the city prosecutor's office.
Approximate amount: Although Martin said he doesn't know the amount of the 50 cases, total delinquencies come to about $400,000.
Not all of the delinquencies can be collected, Martin noted, because some people have moved and can't be located.
Despite the emergency status, during which a seven-member state planning and supervision commission will oversee city finances, it stirred little comment from council.
"I was a little surprised," Mayor James Melfi said of the lack of dialogue.
Councilwoman Kathleen O'Connell Sauline, D-2nd, said sometimes residents tend to blame administrators for the city's financial woes.
Sauline commented that she was "extremely impressed with the financial reports prepared by city Auditor Sam Zirafi."
As chairwoman of council's employee welfare committee, she cautioned city officials to be careful in giving out information that may affect city workers.
Melfi said the employees have not put the city in fiscal emergency and they are not to suffer because of it.
Later in the meeting, lawmakers moved to a second reading legislation establishing a temporary moratorium on pay increases for all city employees, excluding those already under contracts.
Council also tabled legislation that would increase the salary of Police Chief Anthony Ross.
Consultation: Frank Rich, director of safety and human resources, said he will be meeting Aug. 21 with the national leadership of the city unions to discuss cost-cutting measures the city might want to make.
Council agreed to place two five-year renewal levies totaling 2.1 mills on the November general election ballot for garbage pickup.
Zirafi said the two issues will generate about $180,000 annually to maintain the weekly collection.

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