GIRARD City officials balance budget

A lawmaker has asked for legislation to increase sewer fees by 3 percent.
GIRARD -- The financially troubled city has a tentative budget that is balanced.
Councilwoman Kathleen O'Connell Sauline, D-2nd, who chairs council's finance committee, said the $4.2 million general fund appropriations might "very slightly" outstrip expenditures. The city has been under a state-imposed fiscal emergency since Aug. 8 because of its debt and default on loans.
How it was done: City Auditor Sam Zirafi explained the budget was brought into balance by instituting some of the recommendations contained in a state performance audit and an increase of $100,000 in revenue from the municipal court, under the supervision of Judge Michael Bernard.
Sauline said during Monday's council meeting that it's evident the city can't climb out of debt without increasing revenue. Council will consider the budget during its Feb. 25 meeting.
Sauline said a temporary income tax increase will be needed.
A tax increase and water and sewer rate increases have been among the recommendations of the audit, made public Jan. 31.
Councilman John Moliterno, D-at large, chairman of council's sewer committee, asked that legislation be prepared to increase the sewer rate by 3 percent to cover the cost of operating the city sewage treatment plant.
Mayor James J. Melfi explained the city has paid $1.2 million in interest charges from the water and sewer fees to pay for the $2.51 million purchase of Girard lakes.
The audit pointed out there has not been a sewer rate increase since 1997.
Seeking a reduction: Councilman Charles Doran, D-4th, who chairs the building, grounds, recreation and cemetery committee, asked for legislation reducing from 2.5 percent to 1.5 percent the amount of city income tax receipts earmarked for recreation.
Reducing the money directed toward recreation was recommended in the performance audit.
If approved, it means the city will spend $45,000 rather than $78,000 annually on parks and recreation.
To offset the decrease, Mark Zuppo, parks and recreation director, asked that his $15,000 annual salary be reduced to $1 a year.
Zuppo, who has a full-time private job, asked that his salary be eliminated because of the city's economic problems.
In another fiscal matter, the senior citizen van was continue to operate.
With $5,837 in private donations, the city has $900 more than what was needed to purchase a new van and operate it.
Deanna Teter Maynard, whose husband drives the van, presented the city Monday with $1,100 donated by Northview residents.

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