Hilliard Northwest News

Hilliard gives Stivers free rent in wake of sequestration


Hilliard City Council members acted April 22 to temporarily provide free rent to U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Columbus), who has leased Hilliard's former police headquarters as his office for constituents since 2011.

The lease between Stivers and Hilliard included a provision for rent reduction in the event that federal budget cuts, or sequestration, resulted in a reduction to Stivers' representational allowances.

After failing to resolve a budget, members of Congress allowed for an initial six-month period of sequestration to begin.

Hilliard officials decided offer Stivers an amended lease that suspends monthly payments for the remainder of the two-year term or until sequestration is terminated.

An ordinance eliminating monthly rent was introduced at the April 22 meeting of the Finance and Administration Committee.

It was introduced and passed as an emergency measure at the City Council meeting later the same evening.

The original lease ran from April 3, 2011, through Jan. 2, 2013. Stivers paid $2,162.76 per month in rent to help the city recover the cost of upgrades and improvements it made to the building.

Stivers had paid $1,000 a month to Hilliard since the new lease, which expires Jan. 2, 2015, was executed Dec. 10, 2012. The amount was decreased because city officials said they had recovered the cost of the remodeling.

"Having his office here is a benefit to the community," Councilman Jim Ashenhurst said.

Staff members working at the office pay income taxes to Hilliard, city officials said.

In other action at the Finance and Administration Committee meeting, Finance Director David Delande provided committee members with a first-quarter financial report for 2013.

Delande said while it is early in the year, the city is "moving in a positive direction."

Through March 31, the city has received general-fund revenue of almost $5.6 million, or 27.4 percent of the $20.4 million estimated for all of 2013.

At the end of the first quarter, the city should have collected at least 25 percent of the estimated revenue, so Hilliard is slightly ahead of its target, Delande said.

On the other side of the ledger, the city's general-fund expenses through March 31 are $4.5 million, or 22.3 percent of the estimated $20.3 million in general fund expenses for 2013, and slightly less than budgeted for the first quarter of the year.

When combined, the city added $788,513 to its cash reserve during the first quarter of the year, increasing the total cash reserve to $5.7 million, Delande said.