The budget is tight for 2009, according to Gahanna's finance department.

The budget is tight for 2009, according to Gahanna's finance department.

Deputy finance director Angel Mumma shared figures with Gahanna City Council members during their June 23 finance committee meeting.

The city is required by the state to pass the 2009 tax budget no later than July 15.

Mumma said it was anticipated years ago that 2008 through 2010 would be difficult years for the city.

"This budget process confirmed that prediction," Mumma said.

Because initial budget requests exceeded planned revenue by more than $6-million, many projects had to be deferred to future years, Mumma said.

The finance department is planning a 2.2-percent increase in general-fund revenue over 2008. Much of the increase is attributed to the revenue generated by operating the Gahanna Swim Club.

The forecast for growth is not substantial enough to maintain the city at its current capacity, as well as invest in capital improvements.

"While it is our hope that the economy will improve in the near future, we cannot stress the importance of examining all of our revenue sources to determine how to improve our financial future," Mumma said in a memo.

The 2009 budget does not include any revenue from Creekside, including the tax-increment-financing plan recently approved by Franklin County's tax-incentive review council (TIRC). In addition, the parking-garage agreement is pending, Mumma said.

"At this point, we don't have a clear picture of the exact dollars we are going to be receiving. Creekside just opened," she said.

Mumma told the committee 61 percent of the city's revenue comes from its income tax. She said 7 percent comes from local government funds and 7 percent from such taxes as the homestead tax. Twenty-five percent comes from fines, fees, licenses and permits and recreation programs.

She said the state is not meeting its revenue projections. If the state doesn't collect money, it can't pass money to local government, she said. Income-tax revenues have not grown like in the past, she said. At one point, the city had a 9-percent increase. For 2009, it is less than 1 percent.

Finance director Jerry Isler said it also is important to remember that Gahanna lost two of its largest employers -- EMH&T and Alliance Data.

"We still have slight growth, which is far better than a lot of communities," he said.

Finance committee chairman Tom Kneeland said it is important to continue to look for additional revenue from development.

An additional pay period also is hurting city finances. Normally, there are 26 pay periods in a year, but 27 for 2009. That will cost the city half-a-million dollars. Fortunately, Isler has been setting money aside each year to decrease the impact, Mumma said.

Several departments requested additional staff members, but several requests were rejected, including the economic-development manager and a facility equipment operator. The only newly funded positions are the police department's administrative assistant and a public-information officer.

"There were some hard decisions that had to be made," Mumma said.

The 2009 budget projections show an expenditures increase of 3.8 percent over 2008. All capital projects that aren't receiving grant funding were removed from the 2009 budget.

Mumma said increases in gas and oil costs also are affecting the budget. She estimated a 43-percent increase for gas and oil in the 2009 budget.

"At the end of the year, we hope to see a turnaround," Mumma said. "We will learn a lot over the next couple of months. Hopefully, we will see gas prices go down."

Mayor Becky Stinchcomb said the budget process was not easy. She said her administration might meet more regularly with council members before the final budget is due.

"Revenue should turn around, and we may choose to fund some things that were cut," she said.