Youngstown administration proposed a general-fund budget without a deficit
Council members voice issues with some cuts
By David Skolnick
City administration officials presented a proposed general-fund budget without a deficit or layoffs, but council members have issues with some of the financial cuts.
During a Wednesday meeting, some council members objected to a $40,000 reduction in their discretionary funds, used to fund community projects; and a $45,000 cut in the Federal Plaza budget, which finances downtown events and programs.
The projected deficit was $2,296,400 two weeks ago. It was reduced at that point to $1,365,000 with proposed changes to cut the deficit to $1,050,000. The proposal presented Wednesday eliminated the deficit.
Among the new major cuts proposed by the administration are:
Saving $140,000 this year by leasing a snowplow truck over five years rather than buying one. A lease this year would cost about $60,000 rather than $200,000 to buy one, interim Finance Director Kyle Miasek said.
Not spending $196,000 this year for the city’s 20 percent cost of resurfacing parts of Himrod Avenue and Indianola Avenue. By waiting until 2019 city officials say they can obtain that money through a state grant. The rest of the project’s cost will come from federal funds.
$106,400 for a firetruck lease with the money coming from the city’s Community Development Agency fund rather than the general fund.
$55,400 saved by not hiring a secretary at the fire department in salary and benefits.
$82,000 by not hiring a chief of staff to the mayor. While there hasn’t been a chief of staff in more than four years, Mayor Jamael Tito Brown had included the hiring of one in the budget. That position will not be filled.
$96,000 by eliminating bonuses to management employees for having higher-education degrees and for not using sick time.
“We believe this is how we can close the budget gap,” Miasek said.
Councilmen Nate Pinkard, D-3rd, and Mike Ray, D-4th, were agreeable to the proposed cuts even though they said they were painful.
Councilman T.J. Rodgers, D-2nd, also said that, but wants to have hearings with department heads before approving the budget.
Three other council members – Julius Oliver, D-1st; Anita Davis, D-6th; and Basia Adamczak, D-7th – said they didn’t want cuts to their discretionary funds. Oliver and Adamczak also objected to reducing the Federal Plaza budget.
Davis said the city needs to “address structural issues,” which may mean layoffs if necessary.
“We have more employees than our budget can afford,” she said.
Rodgers said rather than layoffs, the city needs to reduce its workforce through attrition.
Councilwoman Lauren McNally, D-5th, didn’t attend Wednesday’s meeting.
Council plans to further discuss the proposed changes before making a decision on what needs to be done to balance the budget. Council has to approve the budget by March 31.