By JEANNE STARMACK
Council took some steps at a finance-committee meeting Wednesday to resolve the crisis with this year’s budget.
The steps, some acknowledged, were small. Bill Vansuch, finance committee chairman, urged the other council members to come up with more ideas to cut or curb spending.
A combination of a drop in revenues and some overspending has led to problems in the general fund and the street department.
The general fund is down about $150,000, due some to overspending. But the biggest problem, says city Finance Director Sherman Miles, is that income-tax collections are down $120,000 from what they should be this time of year. An intergovernmental tax, which the city gets from the county, is down $14,200. Miles attributes the revenue drop to the bad economy.
In the street-department fund, $53,000 in overspending has led to a $26,000 deficit. Much of that was for overtime, salt and slag needed as a result of bad winter weather, said city Administrator Lew Jackson.
Council members and Mayor George Krinos said the city can use the state highway fund and the state permissive-tax fund to help the beleaguered street- department fund.
The permissive tax, a $5 license-plate fee assessed by the state, can help to pay for part-time help in the street department this summer, said council member Bryan Tedesco.
Council and Krinos also believe the city can pay for more salt and slag out of the state highway fund for the miles of highways that go through the city because those roads get more use.
Still unresolved is the issue of a recalled firefighter. Krinos recalled the firefighter in January for the city’s understaffed department, but there was no money in the budget to pay for him. Krinos also has a full-time secretary whose $21,000 yearly salary comes from his giving up his health benefits, but he started taking those benefits again in March.
Miles also said there is no money in the budget to hire 10 auxiliary firefighters the fire department wants. Auxiliary firefighters get paid only when they respond to a fire.