Many city operations would be curtailed under the 2010 tax budget presented Monday night to Gahanna City Council.

Many city operations would be curtailed under the 2010 tax budget presented Monday night to Gahanna City Council.

At a meeting of council's committee of the whole, the city's directors spelled out how they would cut the budget given declining tax revenues.

Finance director Jerry Isler two weeks ago said the city was lagging 7.4 percent behind 2008 income-tax collections.

Deputy finance director Angel Muma said council members should keep in mind that suggested cuts could last for only a short time. If they continue, the cuts would affect the services Gahanna residents have come to expect, she said.

Two weeks ago, Isler said council should look at the city's 1.5-percent income tax. Most other cities in the county have a 2-percent tax.

Without an increase, the city and the quality of life for residents would suffer, Isler said. He said this had become apparent even before the latest downturn in the economy.

Isler also used this budget review to confirm that he would not be here next year. He didn't fund his position.

"I've said for years that 2009 was going to be my last year," he said.

This tax budget, to be presented to the Franklin County auditor, does not set the spending for 2010. State law requires cities to estimate revenues and how they would spend them.

Mayor Becky Stinchcomb reminded council that appropriations in November would come when council goes through the budget line by line, examining spending for the next year.

"We should have a better handle on our revenues by then," she said.

Council members heard the proposed cuts but made no suggestions. In two weeks, they again will review the budget.

Many department directors are cutting back on part-time staff, money to pay for education and conferences and maintenance.

Assistant city engineer Mike Andrako said the biggest cut for his department is the elimination of the street-maintenance program for 2010, including the asphalt overlay, a street rebuild and work on curbs. The city would continue to do emergency repairs, he said.

Human resources manager Kristin Treadway said she wanted to make sure everyone knows Gahanna already is lean when it comes to spending on the city's employees and benefits.

Excluding capital expenditures, the money spent on salaries and fringe benefits is 63.3 percent of the budget, Treadway said. In most municipalities and other public-sector operations, she said, those costs are 70 percent to 80 percent.

"In the budget overall, you will not see any raises at all, except for those already contracted with the steelworkers union," Treadway said. "You are not going to see any additions to the staff -- at all. You are not going to see any full-time decreases in staff either."

Other cuts are as follows:

No more Gateway magazines from the Parks and Recreation Department: Parks director Tony Collins said all registration for programs would be done over the Internet.

Department employees would remove snow only from city-owned lots and such areas as Creekside, and only after 2 inches of snowfall.

Police would do without five new automobiles, including marked and unmarked cruisers: Police Chief Dennis Murphy said he has 53 "gun-toting, arresting" police officers and 15 civilian employees. No police officers are doing clerical work, he said.

Testing for police officers would be cut from three tests to two for the coming year.

gvickers@thisweeknews.com

Other cities' tax rates

Bexley 2.0

Columbus 2.0

Commercial Point 1.0

Dublin 2.0

Grandview Heights 2.225

Grove City 2.0

Hilliard 2.0

Lithopolis 1.0

Minerva Park 1.0

New Albany 2.0

Obetz 2.0

Pickerington 1.0

Powell 0.75

Reynoldsburg 1.5

Upper Arlington 2.0

Urbancrest 2.0

Valley View 2.0

Westerville 2.0

Whitehall 2.0

Worthington 2.0