Reynoldsburg News

Final 2014 city budget

Raises for auditor, non-contract workers included

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Reynoldsburg City Council's finance committee voted Monday, March 3, to send a final 2014 budget back to the full council for a second reading, with a recommendation to pass it as an emergency.

The final 2014 budget includes 3-percent salary increases for non-contract city workers that City Auditor Richard Harris said will cost Reynoldsburg about $100,000.

He said a cost-of-living adjustment increase was built into this year's budget for 160 non-bargaining city employees, retroactive to Jan. 1.

He said it has been about three years since those employees received a raise.

Council will have to approve an ordinance to officially give those employees that increase, he said.

The final budget also includes a 6-percent salary increase for Harris, which council approved in late December. Harris has not had a salary increase since 2009.

The 6-percent raise brings his base salary up to $76,843.64 annually. He also will receive 2-percent annual salary increases in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Councilman Cornelius McGrady III cast the only dissenting vote on that ordinance in December, saying that approving a salary raise for an elected official sends the wrong message to taxpayers, who rejected the city's request for an income tax hike in November.

Police overtime

McGrady also abstained from the finance committee vote Monday to send the 2014 budget back to the full council for action.

"I won't support this budget until we get a handle on overtime costs," he said.

The city's 2013 budget included a request for $100,000 in overtime costs for the police division, but the actual amount spent in 2013 for police overtime was $250,404.

The 2014 budget worksheet for the department shows a budget request of $300,000 for this year's police overtime costs.

Police Chief Jim O'Neill said during his budget presentation last month that overtime costs generally amount to more than $200,000 each year for his department. He said the overtime appropriations request was cut down for the 2013 adopted budget, but actual costs were more than double the $100,000 amount.

Councilwoman Leslie Kelly asked Harris to explain how he came up with $318,000 worth of cuts he made for the police division in the final budget requests, compared to the figures in the interim budget.

"When we come up with the initial budget, we look at all the full-time employees and say they will be paid for 2,080 hours," Harris said. "But then we know that even though we have 55 officers, some will be on military leave or in the reserves and we don't have to pay them during that time. So when we consider the enforcement money, we typically pay only 98 percent of it."

Harris said last week that further savings were found in the police department by reducing a potential legal liability amount by $50,000, tweaking overtime requests and "reducing $1,000 here and there."

Brice Road

In other finance discussions Monday, Councilman Scott Barrett asked Service Director Nathan Byrd if the Brice Road corridor street project, which begins soon and is expected to be completed by fall, would cost more to maintain when it is finished.

"It won't have the brick walls and sidewalks like Main Street," Byrd said. "It will look better than it does now, but it is not a beautification project, so no, it will not cost more to maintain."

Barrett also wanted to know if the cold winter temperatures will mean street repairs will be more costly.

Byrd said city workers have already filled 220 potholes since the last big snowstorm.

"We have enough in the street budget to fill all the potholes," he said. "Filling those holes will be an ongoing project, which we will get back to as soon as the weather is better."

The next full council meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. March 10 at the Reynoldsburg Municipal Building, 7232 E. Main St.

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