Reynoldsburg's new electricity aggregation agreement with First Energy Solutions Corp. helped eliminate a projected shortage in the city's 2011 budget.

Reynoldsburg's new electricity aggregation agreement with First Energy Solutions Corp. helped eliminate a projected shortage in the city's 2011 budget.

Instead of a $442,178 deficit, the budget unanimously approved Dec. 20 by Reynoldsburg City Council shows a positive balance of $147,996.

With input from council's finance committee and after reviewing further options, city auditor Richard Harris said he, Mayor Brad McCloud, and council President William Hills found a way to eliminate the red ink.

Harris said the new 2011 budget shows expenditures of $13,276,935 with estimated revenue of $13,424,931 leaving a balance of $147,996.

To get to that configuration, Harris said they included extra revenue because of a couple of things.

First, as a result of council's Dec. 13 approval of a plan for Reynoldsburg to join First Energy's electricity aggregation program, the city will receive a community grant from the company of no less than $103,000.

Development director Lucas Haire said that figure could go up in 2011 since First Energy said it will pay an additional $10 per customer who participates in the aggregation program. There may be 14,000 households and about 2,500 businesses eligible, Haire said.

Harris said the second source of revenue comes from officials' decision to make one payment - instead of installments - to take care of an income tax liability stemming from an enterprise zone agreement for the Limited Brand companies located on East Broad Street.

"At the Limited complex, we have a liability with the Licking Heights school district for the enterprise zone that was created up there for Victoria's Secret Direct," Harris said. "So instead of paying them off in payments in 2011 for the money we receive in income tax up there, we are transferring money over to the general fund to pay it off all at once, which is $500,000.

"We're taking the money out of a savings account rather than holding on to it and paying it out every month," Harris said. "It's like if you have a car payment and you get your car paid off and you don't have a payment any more. Then you got so much extra every month for your other expenses."

However, he said, these steps constitute a short-term solution to a long-term problem. Each year, the city finds ways to do more and more with less and less, he said.

"I mean, our last tax increase went from 1 percent to 1.5 percent back in 1982, and look at everybody else: Columbus went to 2.5 percent recently, and Whitehall.

"So what that says is the city of Reynoldsburg over the years has done a very good job of managing its money and being very conservative with what they've done," Harris said. "But at some point in time, how much further can we go? We're basically taking in the same money we took in 10 or so years ago."