GOVERNMENT Commission seeks plan for Campbell's finances

Reducing police and fire overtime could cut city expenses, the mayor said.
CAMPBELL -- The deadline is looming for the commission charged with planning the city's financial recovery.
Campbell's Financial Planning and Supervision Commission has until Nov. 26 to present a recovery plan or face an automatic 15 percent cut in its appropriations, said Tisha Turner, project manager, local government services, with the auditor of state's Youngstown office. Turner reminded commission members of the deadline at a meeting Wednesday.
She also announced that the city's general fund deficit grew again last month "because spending continues to exceed what the city takes in."
Mayor Jack Dill said the city is moving toward cutting expenses, having laid off workers in the street, water and maintenance departments.
The Campbell Fire Department, however, continues to be a major expense. "It costs us $700,000 a year for nine firefighters," Dill said. "We want to cut that to about $360,000. That's what we think the city can afford."
Reducing paid overtime also could help, the mayor added.
City firefighters average $61,000 in earnings each year including benefits. Police officers average about $49,000 a year in wages and benefits, Dill said.
Workers in both departments understand the city's predicament, the mayor continued, and seem to want to cooperate with the city in cutting overtime.
Shared duties
One way that could be accomplished, Dill said, is by having workers in both departments share some duties, such as answering phones and dispatching emergency vehicles.
Selling the city's water plant, as discussed at previous commission meetings, might be a viable way for the city to pay off some of its debts, the mayor said. Two parties have expressed interest -- Aqua Ohio and the city of Youngstown.
But before a decision is made, city council and commission members need to know the appraised value of that operation, Dill said.
Commission members voted down a motion to allow the appraisal with four members voting to allow the appraisal and two voting to wait until after a recovery plan has been completed. For a motion to pass, five commission members must approve it.
The commission also approved hiring a law firm to prepare paperwork enabling the city to issue local government fund notes. How much could be raised through bond sales to pay off debt is yet to be determined.
Legal fees for the firm are not to exceed $25,000.
The next financial-planning commission meeting will be at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 19 in the council caucus room.

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