Reynoldsburg News

Council approves interim '14 budget on split vote

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Reynoldsburg City Council approved a 2014 interim budget Monday, Dec. 9, but two council members said Mayor Brad McCloud should have prepared an actual budget with suggested cuts in light of the failed income tax issue.

Councilman Scott Barrett said the city must engage in "radical thinking" to find much-needed revenue to maintain and repair city infrastructure.

"Under no circumstances will I support an interim budget," he said at last week's finance committee meeting. "I'm not a fan of interim budgets and I think we need to request that the budget comes in complete form to us."

Nevertheless, McCloud presented the same 2014 interim budget that was approved in July at council's meeting Dec. 9, with the addition of total expenditures for each department through November.

It was approved on a 5-2 vote, with Barrett and Councilwoman Monica DeBrock opposed.

"Talking about an interim budget is kicking the can down the road," Barrett said at the Dec. 2 finance committee meeting. "What do we need to do to get more revenue -- close the parks down?"

"Not while I'm mayor," McCloud said.

DeBrock said she also does not like interim budgets.

"I won't be on council next year, but budget discussions should have started earlier," she said. "I do not understand why we are still paying for things like fireworks, for example."

The 2014 interim city budget shows that as of Nov. 20, actual police department expenses, including salaries, benefits and supplies, amounted to $7,138,894.59. The amount budgeted for 2014 is $8,915,929.16.

Actual expenses for the Parks and Recreation Department were listed as $724,829.75, with the 2014 budget amount at $870,510.02.

The Service Department's actual expenses came in at $793,148.18 as of Nov. 20, with $973,295.85 budgeted for next year.

Senior Center expenses were $150,720.50 for the year, with $155,310.00 budgeted for next year.

Mayor's office expenses came in at $178,686.51 this year as of Nov. 20, with $203,303.30 budgeted for next year.

Total general fund expenses for this year as of Nov. 20 were listed as $11,813,287.51. The amount budgeted for next year on the interim budget is $14,835,606.33.

Total actual revenue for the year is not yet listed in the interim budget, but Harris said actual total revenue by the end of 2012 was $14,008,320, with anticipated expenditures in 2013 of $13,489,570.

McCloud said it was difficult to predict a revenue stream in light of the failure of the city's request to increase the income tax from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent in November. He said if the tax issue had passed, he would have had an additional $5 million to work into the 2014 budget.

"Presenting the same budget that was passed earlier in the year, only with actual end-of-year numbers from the city auditor, gives the auditor a chance to close the books," he said. "We will know exactly what was spent."

He said council will have until April 1 to discuss and refine the budget.

City Auditor Richard Harris said Reynoldsburg has always had a budget timeline, but those dates are "not set in concrete."

"I do my part of the budget in the fall and present it to the mayor," he said at last week's finance committee meeting. "There are certain procedures I have to follow to establish a tax budget by July. We do an interim budget to have some kind of appropriation in place to pay our expenses until the full year's budget is finished.

"Now you will have final year's numbers to work with," he said.

Councilman Mel Clemens said he has been through many budget discussions over his years on council.

"If the council desires to have an actual budget before the first of the year, then we could prepare that in 2014 and have it in the fall for 2015," he said.

"We do need to start having serious discussions on where cuts might have to be made," Councilman Barth Cotner said.

Barrett said he would like to see suggestions from the administration on where substantial cuts could be made "to put money back into the infrastructure."