Campbell water rates likely to increase as city tries to balance budget

Published: Fri, March 9, 2018 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Graig Graziosi


As part of the city’s effort to balance its 2018 budget, city council instructed Mayor Nick Campbell to raise water rates.

Council met Thursday for a special meeting to discuss the budget and learned the water department operated at a deficit for the third year in a row.

The department will begin 2018 with a $13,137 deficit. The water-rate increase is likely to be a $2 increase to the variable-use rate, increasing the rate from $4.50 per thousand gallons to $6.50 per thousand gallons.

Phillips will meet with Joe Tovarnak, water superintendent, to discuss how to best implement the increases and determine the actual increase amount.

Yanni Tiliakos, finance director, estimates the city will have $3.1 million for its general fund this year, though that figure has yet to be certified by Mahoning County Auditor’s office. The city’s 2017 general fund was $3.2 million.

In addition to raising the water rates, the city also chose not to fill the positions of recent retirees in the police and street departments. Council President George Levendis estimates the elimination of the police position will save the city at least $60,000.

Ryan Bloomer, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Campbell Lodge 42, attended a council session Wednesday to voice the group’s concerns the city wasn’t filling the position with a full-time officer.

Levendis said the officer was doing dispatch work, so the city would still be operating with the same number of officers on the streets.

One of the city’s heftiest expenses is its health care.

In 2015, the city’s actual health care cost, which includes a 10 percent contribution from employees, was $647,932. In 2018, the cost – now with a 13 percent contribution from employees – will be $796,988.

Levendis suggested the mayor could begin looking for less expensive but comparable-in-quality insurance plans for the city to consider. Phillips said it was a good idea, but he was adamant about having a quality plan for city employees.

“We don’t have a ton of money to give our employees, so at least we can give them halfway decent health care,” Phillips said.

Tiliakos will continue to search for cuts to balance the city’s budget this week by meeting individually with department heads and going through line-item breakdowns to identify any potentially excess.

“Department heads will have to follow the budgets we give them,” Levendis said. “If they fall off, then it’ll be on them.”

Later Thursday evening, Phillips returned to city hall for a casual town-hall meeting.

The meeting only drew four residents, but lasted for just over an hour and covered topics ranging from the city’s water plant dilemma to the mayor’s struggles to bring new businesses into the city.

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