Problems continue to mount for city
'You can't imagine what we are going through here,' the mayor said.
By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
CAMPBELL -- Even tougher times lie ahead for the city after the double body blows of a failed property tax levy and imminent loss of a major employer, says Mayor John E. Dill.
On Tuesday, voters rejected a 5-mill, 5-year additional levy, which would have generated $352,760 a year. That came on the heels of the announcement that Calex Corp. is closing its doors.
Combined with the loss of $75,000 a year in income tax revenues from Calex Corp. employees, that means an additional $400,000 to $450,000 must be cut from the general operating budget, the mayor said.
The city already has made $800,000 in budget cuts, accomplished by reducing the work force through attrition, layoffs and cutting services, Dill said.
The city has reduced its number of police officers (from 16 to 13), firefighters (from nine to six) and street department workers (from six to four), the mayor said.
The state placed Campbell in fiscal emergency in 2004 and the city could end 2005 with a $450,000 shortfall.
What is particularly disappointing, Dill said, is that the levy, on the ballot for the third time, lost by some 400 votes this time, compared to 86 votes last spring.
"I understand that people are tired of paying taxes and that 30 percent of our residents are retired and on fixed incomes," he said.
What the residents will have to understand, however, is that services will have to be cut further, the mayor said. The city can only operate with the money it has. It can't go into 2006 with a budget deficit, Dill said.
The mayor said a decision on the cuts should be made no later than Nov. 10. Employees have to be given a 30-day notice if they are to be laid off, he said.
"We will have to revisit our financial recovery plan. You can't imagine what we are going through here. It's not going to be pretty," he said.
Regarding the Calex announcement that it plans to close within two weeks because of rising natural-gas prices, Dill said he and other city officials were taken completely by surprise.
He learned of it at 4:40 p.m. Monday and met in his office with the owner's daughter at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Dill said he told her the city wants to help in whatever way it can to keep the aluminum extrusion company open.
"I couldn't convey to her more plainly how important those jobs are to the city and to the people who work there," he said.
Dill said when he visited Calex six weeks ago, the place was busy and there was no mention of problems.
Dill said the city and state agencies want to offer help to Calex to keep them operating.
As of Wednesday night, however, the company's owners had not returned calls to Dill or the local representative of the Ohio Department of Development.
"We can't help if we can't sit down with the Calex owners and find out what is going on," Dill said.
Closing the plant seems like a drastic move because of the increasing cost of natural gas, which could be temporary, Dill said.
The mayor said he is continuing to seek a meeting with Calex owners to discuss their decision, offer whatever help the city can provide and see if there is something that can convince the business to stay open.