House demolition fund increased to $1.27 million
The city finance director revised the 2006 proposed budget figures.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
CITY HALL REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- What was touted as the city's largest general fund budget carryover in nearly 30 years is greater than thought just days ago.
Finance Director David Bozanich said a few days ago that the city's 2005 general fund surplus was $1.8 million.
But Bozanich revised the number Wednesday to $2,291,600 during a budget presentation to city council's finance committee. Council will approve the 2006 budget sometime this month.
The primary reason for the increased surplus is city departments had about $325,000 in bills for 2005 that didn't come due until this year, he said. The rest came from tweaking the budget and anticipating state money for certain items the city expected to fund.
The proposed 2006 budget had included $1 million to demolish dilapidated houses in the city. Because of the additional surplus, the proposed budget increases demolition funding by $270,000 to $1.27 million.
Until this proposal, the $275,000 allocation in last year's city Community Development Agency budget was the most money spent by the city for demolition.
The proposal also includes $70,000 in additional funding to the police department to purchase five new cruisers. The proposed budget already included funding for seven police cars.
If approved by council, this would be the most amount of general fund money allocated for housing demolition and police car purchases, city officials said.
About 750 houses are on the city's list of properties to be demolished, and Mayor Jay Williams estimates about 200 to 300 more also need to come down. Some 100 commercial sites need to be demolished too, he said.
The demolition of a house typically costs $2,500, Williams said. But if the house is in need of remediation, that cost can significantly increase, he said.
Because of the expense and the limited amount of money available for demolition, structures with remediation issues weren't demolished in the past, he said.
But Williams wants to take another approach to housing demolition. The mayor wants to demolish all dilapidated homes on a street or in a neighborhood regardless of the cost, saying it will help revitalize neighborhoods.
The proposed 2006 budget includes $39.82 million in expenditures.
Bozanich said a few days ago that the city would spend at least $1 million on capital improvement projects. On Wednesday, he said the actual number is $2.55 million.
Of that amount, $1.1 million will go toward 20 Federal Place, the former Phar-Mor Centre on West Federal Street. The city owns the building but not the land. The city will purchase the land as well as renovate the facility and pay operational costs.
The city expects 300 jobs will be created at the building in the near future. The city will also use $700,000 to purchase 65 acres for a new business park on Salt Springs Road. The city expects the acquisition to create 400 new jobs.
The city also plans to spend $400,000 to reconstruct Division Street this summer to connect the Ohio Works park to the Route 711 connector and $350,000 to purchase the former Erie Terminal downtown for redevelopment.