TWINSBURG — City Council is poised to vote on its 2019 permanent appropriations at a March 19 meeting.
After revisions were made to an initial draft of the budget, figures show the city expects revenue for the year to be about $49.1 million for all funds, with expenses at about $52.16 million. The respective general fund numbers are $26.36 million and $29.9 million.
Finance Director Sarah Buccigross said the general fund balance at the end of 2018 was $8.29 million, and that is expected to drop to $4.61 million in 2019. The balance in all funds was $16.88 million at the end of 2018, and that likely will drop to $12.53 million in 2019.
Mayor Ted Yates expressed concern that the general fund budget is expected to drop by about $3 million this year, but added city spending is slowing down.
Buccigross’ figures show the general fund appropriations at the end of 2018 were $30.74 million, and the 2019 general fund appropriations are at $29.9 million, a drop of $835,602.
"The budget process starts in October or early November, and it is a long process," Yates said. "We have worked hard to control spending, but we have no control over certain things."
The mayor noted health care costs have risen from $2.1 million to $3.5 million, and salaries and wages are $3.5 million higher than they were in 2012.
"Should we eliminate personnel or not upgrade our infrastructure?" he asked. "Council has dug in deeper than ever before [to scrutinize the budget], and we realize we have tough decisions to make."
At his State of the City Address in February, Yates called the general fund balance at the end of 2018 "healthy," but admitted he would like to see it higher.
In the years since 2009, the city’s general fund ending balance has ranged from a low of $5.7 million in 2009 to a high of $26.8 million in 2013. The balance has dropped each year since 2013.
The finance director’s latest figures show the 2019 overall appropriations of $52.16 million are 5.5 percent less than the $55.19 million at the end of 2018.
Buccigross said she expects last year’s income tax revenue of $22.8 million to be down slightly in 2019 because the city received a large amount of net profits tax last year "and that’s something you can’t count on every year."
Between 2009 and 2018, income tax revenue peaked at $25 million in 2013.
Although he said he was disappointed the city has not balanced the budget in his four years on Council, Brian Steele voted in favor of the 2019 appropriations.
Councilman Bill Furey pointed out that Council put $1.2 million back into the general fund this year instead of increasing the long-term debt on the Gleneagles clubhouse bonds.
"I thank the mayor and department heads for their hard work on the budget," said Councilwoman Maureen Stauffer, who urged residents to do their homework, and don’t always believe the gloom and doom about city finances that they hear on social media.
Resident and citizen auditor Loren Sengstock told Council that continuing to pass deficit budgets "puts the city in a very bad position." He added it is the mayor’s responsibility to present a balanced budget, with Council providing the checks and balances.
Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400, ext. 4189 or email@example.com.