TWINSBURG — The 2019 permanent appropriations ordinance — showing a total of $51.68 million — was introduced in late February, and some adjustments are likely before Council acts on the final budget March 19.

Council member Bill Furey said about $1.32 million has been trimmed from the original budget, and the city expects to have about $13.2 million in overall reserves at the end of the year. It ended 2018 with a balance of about $8.2 million in the general fund.

However, the general fund and overall funds balances are expected to drop by slightly more than $3 million from the end of 2018 to the end of 2019.

In recent weeks, the finance committee has met several times with department heads to review their budgets, and determine what expenditures can be cut.

"The finance committee has really scrutinized this budget," said Councilman Sam Scaffide. "It is a good budget, and the committee should be proud of its efforts."

"We are continuing to work hard on putting together a good budget," added Mayor Ted Yates. "We are looking at ways to be more efficient in city operations."

General fund appropriations are listed at $29.73 million. The Gleneagles Golf Course fund is the next highest at $8.94 million.

Other categories topping $1 million are the sewer fund at $3.1 million, fitness center at $1.88 million, street maintenance and repairs at $1.56 million, capital improvements at $1.29 million and sewer improvements at $1 million.

Other major categories are park debt at $850,150, general bond retirement at $811,980, fire pension at $737,000 and police pension at $735,000.

Of the general fund amount, general government accounts for the highest budget amount at $10.83 million, with public works at $5.6 million, police department at $3.97 million and fire department at $3.97 million.

The finance committee met with Parks and Recreation Director Derek Schroeder prior to Council’s Feb. 26 session to discuss some measures which could increase revenue and decrease costs.

Council favored cutting about $29,000 out of the budgets for special events, including the holiday event LuminoCity, summer’s Taste of Twinsburg and the City Hall Christmas lighting. The Taste of Twinsburg will take place at the Gleneagles clubhouse this year.

A $20 increase in the cost of summer camp is a possibility, and Schroeder said slight increases in ticket prices for the summer concerts and fitness center memberships also are being considered.

Schroeder said staffing at the concerts has been reduced, and the parks and rec department is looking at eliminating some classes which do not fill up.

"We don’t want to price people out of participating in our activities," Council member Scott Barr cautioned. 

Yates said he has been in talks with school district officials about sharing some costs at the fitness center and swimming pool.

Schroeder noted the fitness center is in need of about $1.4 million in upgrades over the next five years, the biggest item being humidity units for the pool, which are likely to cost close to $1 million.

A budget line item of $50,000 is being considered for a performance audit by the state auditor’s office, which officials said would look at the police, fire and parks-rec departments and identify ways of saving money and being more efficient.

During Council’s regular meeting, resident Michael Turle called some of the city’s recent spending "wasteful," and said he would rather see money spent on things such as safety services rather than the golf course.

"We’ve blown through $20 million in city reserves [over the last few years]," he said. "That’s not being fiscally responsible. Where has all that money gone?"

Resident Bob Thewes also criticized city spending on such items as the golf course, Twinsburg Fitness Center and Liberty Park. He said the time may be right for switching to a city manager form of government.

Later in the meeting, Yates shared with Council and the audience parts of his recent State of the City Address, detailing the $59 million worth of capital improvements that have been made from 2013-18.

Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400, ext. 4189 or klahmers@recordpub.com.