The city has five months to get its new budget in line.
By TIM YOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
GIRARD -- The 2003 projected budget looks bleak, the state commission overseeing city finances has been told.
"The cash just isn't there," Nita Hendryx, financial supervisor from the state auditor's office, told the Girard Financial Planning and Supervision Commission on Tuesday.
The commission has been guiding the city's fiscal policy since the community was forced into fiscal emergency nearly a year ago.
Girard faces a $900,000 deficit in 2003 unless expenditures are reduced and income increased.
The tax budget approved by the commission Tuesday doesn't include a tax increase but does include a negotiated 3.5-percent pay increase next year to unionized city workers.
Hendryx pointed out the city's largest expenses within the general fund are wages and fringe benefits.
Balancing the budget
The commission requires the city to approve a balanced budget when council votes on the 2003 appropriations in November or December.
"We have five months to get it in line. It's bad. It looks pretty bad," Hendryx told the commission.
Councilman Joseph Lambert, D-at-large, told commission members that lawmakers will consider some sort of tax increase when they return in August from their July recess.
"Council and the administration have to focus on increasing revenue and decreasing expenditures," Hendryx cautioned. Commission members have suggested the city consider selling Girard Lakes.
Mayor James J. Melfi, a commission member, favors that and has contacted appraisers. Melfi said it will cost about $15,000 to get the property appraised, an amount city council must appropriate. Neither the city nor Trumbull County has a survey of the city-owned property around the lakes. Such a survey, the mayor estimated, will cost between $12,000 and $20,000.