Reynoldsburg City Council heard the first reading of an ordinance Monday, Feb. 24, outlining a final city budget that shaves about $500,000 from totals requested on the interim budget.
Council members Chris Long, Dan Skinner, Scott Barrett, Leslie Kelly, Cornelius McGrady III and Mel Clemens voted without discussion to send the ordinance back to the finance committee. Councilman Barth Cotner was absent.
The 2014 final budget submitted by Mayor Brad McCloud includes estimated general fund revenue of $14,100,000 in 2014. Actual expenses in 2013 were $13,343,367 and the 2014 budget asks for general fund appropriations of $14,332,595.
City Auditor Richard Harris said there is a general fund balance carryover of $3,700,000 from 2013.
The overall city budget for 2014 includes appropriations requests of $35,160,111 with total estimated revenue of $37,582,850.
Actual expenses for 2013 were listed at $34,761,253 for the total city budget.
Harris said during last week's finance committee meeting that he and McCloud went over the interim budget line by line.
"The final budget came in about $500,000 less than the interim budget," he said.
He said whatever final budget council members approve must be submitted to the Ohio Auditor's Office by March 31.
Councilwoman Leslie Kelly said she wanted to see a breakdown of the cuts.
Harris provided that information to council Monday. The documents compared the interim department totals with the final budget requests and listed the total increase or decrease in each department.
Kelly and other council members had asked city department heads to consider 5- to 10-percent cuts and asked them to resubmit their budgets to reflect those cuts.
Harris said he and McCloud went over those revised budgets to come up with cuts from the interim budget a mounts wherever possible.
The largest decrease in the final budget was $333,101 in the police department.
Harris said Tuesday, Feb. 25, he found the savings in the police department by determining which officers would be on military leave this year, since several are in military reserve programs.
"When they get called up, we don't pay them," he said.
He said another major cut in the final proposed police budget compared to the department's interim budget was a potential liability amount of $50,000, which was included in case the department is sued.
"If we get sued, we can take it out elsewhere in the general fund," he said. "The rest was $1,000 here and there that I thought was fluff. The department is still not getting less than it got last year (according to last year's actual expenses). We also took the overtime budget down some."
Other departmental decreases from the interim budget amounts include $34,064 for the city attorney's office; $60,511 for the building department; $50,520 for human resources; and $121,616 in the administrative budget.
Cotner said last week that council members will likely discuss the final budget during finance committee meetings at 7:30 p.m. March 3 and March 17 at the Reynoldsburg Municipal Building, 7232 E. Main St.
"Most of the city budget goes to salaries, so there isn't a whole lot to cut," he said.
Cotner and other city leaders have said Reynoldsburg must find ways to increase revenue to repair crumbling roads and improve safety and services.
Residents have rejected the last four attempts to raise the city income tax rate. The latest ballot issue -- a request to raise the city income tax rate from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent -- failed in November 2013.