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YOUNGSTOWN Prepare for cuts, financial director warns



Published: Thu, February 28, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Cut those nonessential expenditures, the finance director advises.

By PETER H. MILLIKEN

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- City Finance Director Barbara Burtner has warned city council to brace for financial troubles.

"All departments: Prepare to tighten the belt. I'm looking for probably around a 4-percent decrease from last year's budget -- from last year's actual expenditures," she told council's finance committee Wednesday. "Because wages went up, that means that there's going to have to be serious looks at other expenditure areas that we may be able to cut.

"We've been kind of living the good life for three or four years now and now we're starting to see some difficulties coming," said Burtner, who became finance director in 1998.

"As long as everybody's aware of it, we can get through it and figure ways to cut down a little bit on nonessential expenditures," she continued.

Budget deadline: She expects to submit the 2002 budget to Mayor George McKelvey next week. Council must adopt a final budget by March 31.

The city came to within $3,000 of having an operating deficit last year, she told the finance committee.

"I'm not, at this point in time, going to expect much of an increase in income tax collections over last year," she said. If income tax collections improve, or if the city receives unanticipated income from other sources, she said she can amend the budget accordingly.

She added that she will be budgeting conservatively this year, assuming the $1.5 million federal Community Oriented Policing Services grant the city got last year won't be renewed. Although a workers' compensation refund is coming, the amount and timing of it is unknown, she said. "Without knowing the amount, I'm hesitant to include it in the revenue budget at this point," she explained.

Proposals presented: After the finance committee meeting, five proposals requiring council action were presented to council's economic development committee for its review. They are:

UA 75-percent, 10-year real estate tax abatement for a 6,000-square-foot James & amp; Weaver Co. furniture warehouse to be built at Poland and Powersdale avenues to create two full-time and one part-time jobs.

USale of three acres for $1 in the Ohio Works Industrial Park to NASCO Construction, a bridge development company, which will build a new 10,000-square-foot building there and bring 10 employees here from Austintown and create five new jobs over three years.

UA city contribution of $50,000 to $70,000 for changes in railroad track and equipment needed to ensure railroad access to Midwest Steel and Alloy, which scraps rail cars, during replacement of the nearby Division Street bridge.

UA city contribution of up to $120,000 toward the $600,000 cost of demolition of the blighted USA Parking deck across the street from city hall, which will be replaced with surface parking lots and a small park.

USale of 12 acres for $1 and provision of a 75-percent, 10-year real and personal property tax abatement, and a $1.50-per-square-foot site development grant for 90,000 square feet of new construction to the Industrial Waste Control Project in the Ohio Works Industrial Park, which will preserve 45 jobs and add 45 more.

milliken@vindy.com




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