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Water rates will rise 11 percent next year



Published: Thu, November 16, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The city will end the year with a 200,000 general fund deficit.

By NANCY TULLIS

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

CAMPBELL -- City residents who just saw a successful referendum Nov. 7 nix the sale of the city's water plant to Aqua Ohio will see an 11 percent increase in water rates next year.

After discussion by city council Wednesday, residents also will likely see city council continue to try to sell the water plant despite the referendum.

Council asked Law Director Brian Macala on Wednesday what would happen if the city were to advertise for bids for sale of the water plant. Since the plant's sale would require passage of an ordinance to that effect, Macala said he has to research whether Ohio law requires any type of waiting period before the same or a similar ordinance is presented after being overturned by a referendum vote.

City officials are trying to sell the water plant to pull the city out of fiscal emergency.

Council President William Vansuch scheduled a finance committee meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the general fund budget.

Reason for increase

Finance Director John Leskovyansky said an 11 percent increase in water rates is needed for the 2007 water department budget to offset loss of water customers and other factors depleting that budget.

The water department budget will be in a 130,000 deficit at the end of the year, and there will be a 200,000 deficit in the general fund he said.

During a work session before the council meeting, Nita Hendryx, a fiscal supervisor with the state auditor's office, told council to come up with ways to erase the 200,000 deficit because the city cannot present a budget that is in the red to the state-appointed commission overseeing the city's finances. The city is in state-designated fiscal emergency.

Leskovyansky said Hendryx is assigned to help the city get out of fiscal emergency. Hendryx said the city is "leaps and bounds better" than an original 800,000 projected deficit in the general fund.

Temporary budget

Council is considering a temporary, 90-day budget, but must erase the deficit and pass a final, balanced budget by March 31, 2007.

Leskovyansky said the city saved some money in the water department by working without a water superintendent and by not making repairs and upgrades needed at the plant. Loss of revenue has come mostly from loss of water customers in recent years, he said.

Nearly lost in the council's gloom-and-doom discussions of the city's finances Wednesday was Mayor Jack Dill's announcement the city will receive 190,310 from the Ohio Department of Development to help clean up a former Youngstown Sheet & amp; Tube mill site in the city.

The money will come from a Clean Ohio grant and is on the State Controlling Board's agenda Dec. 4.

tullis@vindy.com




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