Feb 3, 2013

Council discusses appropriations; funds available for fire auxiliary

BY RYAN BERRY 
MANAGING EDITOR 
GREENVILLE – Greenville City Council met as a Committee of the Whole to discuss the 2013 appropriations on Jan. 29. Council learned the city was able to carry-over $2,648,003 from last year and expects a revenue of $7,103,800 in 2013. Nearly $1.9 million will be set aside for three months of operating costs, per “best practice” as described by the Ohio Revised Code. The finance committee, mayor, and safety/service proposed $7,472,823 in appropriations. The difference leaves the city with nearly a 1/2 million dollar cushion.

While there was little change in many of the appropriations lines, some departments and projects will be affected more than others by the 2013 budget. According to Safety/Service Director Curt Garrison, the elimination of the state’s CAT Tax and Inheritance Tax (a.k.a. Death Tax), the city will have to look elsewhere for capital improvement funds. One proposed source would be the nearly $.5 million cushion. The city and finance committee would have to be cautious with designating those funds for capital improvements because once they are in the funding line it would take a court order to remove them.

There was some discussion regarding the budget for the fire department. In the original appropriations, the finance committee and administration left $0 for instituting the fire auxiliary. Chief Mark Wolf asked for approximately $22,000 be designated for the auxiliary in his appropriation request. He explained the purpose of the program would be to put “boots on the ground.” With a six-person shift and not everyone available when firefighters are recalled to work a fire, the department is getting between eight and nine men working a fire. To fully staff the vehicles, the department needs 11 men.

Chief Wolf believes the $22,000 investment is a small price to pay to have “boots on the ground” during a fire. The auxiliary would have their training paid and would receive the lowest firefighter rate with a minimum of three hours for each call. Wolf pointed out he has never used the entire budgeted amount when the department had an auxiliary previously.

Garrison pointed to a good working relationship with Greenville Township and good talks with the township in regards to a joint fire district as reasons not to fund the auxiliary.

The majority of council disagreed with the safety/service director and asked that funds be put in appropriations for an auxiliary. Instead of cutting anything else from the budget, council chose to take funds from the $.5 million cushion.

Council also agreed to keep the police secretary’s position.

A department that will most likely see a little restructuring is the Engineering Office. Under the administration’s plan, a new engineer will not be hired and the department will be a Planning & Zoning office. The department has generally engineered one project a year with most of the engineering projects being outsourced. The city will not replace the previous engineer, but will promote one of the office workers to the position of department head. Additional funding was made available for outsourcing engineering services, but funding was decreased for salaries.

The Park Board received nearly the same as last year, but has decided to no longer outsource mowing. The duties will be split between season help hired by the board and the street department. The city will also appropriate $14,000 for the pool. The board is estimating revenue at $93,000 for the pool. Last year, the pool had $91,991 in revenue. Camille Baker, park board member, agreed the board will have to watch the revenue and expenditures very closely.

Council is expected to approve appropriations at its next meeting on Feb. 5, 7:30 p.m., Council Chambers, Municipal Building.

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