Twinsburg’s budget to be leaner in 2021

Ken Lahmers
Special to MyTownNEO
Twinsburg Government Center

TWINSBURG – City Council is considering approving 2021 temporary appropriations that are down about $1.5 million in the general fund and $12.62 million in all funds compared to the original 2020 appropriations.

Finance Director Sarah Buccigross said the much lower number in all funds is largely due to the rollover of the Gleneagles Golf Course clubhouse note. Golf course appropriations in 2020 were set at $9.77 million, while they are expected to be $1.33 million in 2021.

Buccigross said the 2021 appropriations amount to a 24 percent decrease in all funds expenses, or 12 percent after the clubhouse note rollover is factored in, and an 18 percent decrease in revenue. Clubhouse bond payments of $403,000 a year start in 2021, while the golf course land acquisition bond will be paid off.

At its regular meeting Nov. 24, Council amended the 2020 appropriations to reflect the sale of $7.38 million in taxable/tax exempt golf course clubhouse bonds, which closed in November.

General fund expenses are anticipated to be $28.39 million in 2021, compared to $29.91 million at the start of 2020, whereas revenue is anticipated to be $25.58 million. In all funds, appropriations are set at $40.68 million, compared to $53.3 million at the start of 2020.

The appropriations were discussed at the finance committee meeting and then presented to Council for first reading. A vote on the temporary appropriations is likely Dec. 8. A permanent budget must be adopted by the end of March 2021.

Buccigross said the 2021 lower figures include a 10 percent staff reduction in 2020 (about 18 full-time employees) brought about by the COVID-19 crisis and privatizing operations at the clubhouse restaurant, placing a handful of planned capital improvements on hold and a 37 percent decrease in the fitness center budget.

She emphasized none of the staff reductions were in the safety forces, and the capital improvements which are on hold include a wireless camera system, a 5-ton truck, mowers and fire department and golf course purchases.

“We are looking at every opportunity to lean up our operations and be as tight as possible,” said Councilman/finance chairman Scott Barr. “The finance committee, Council and finance director are committed to squeezing every penny out of every taxpayer dollar, and we’ll continue that mission.”

The 2021 general fund budget breakdown by departments is as follows: General government, $9.74 million; public works, $5.66 million; police, $4.08 million; fire, $3.99 million; communications, $1.08 million; parks and rec, $781,150; IT, $533,660.

Engineering, $490,025; finance, $401,400; building, $359,400; law, $285,350; mayor, $235,085; council, $221,585; economic development, $202,850; human resources, $168,850; senior citizens, $133,270; civil service, $16,435; and planning, $2,440.

In addition to the general fund, some larger categories of expenditures are: sewers, $3.18 million; street maintenance, $1.77 million; golf course, $1.34 million; capital improvements, $1.28 million; fitness center, $1.25 million; and bond retirement, $1.22 million.

Buccigross said a full year of COVID-19 effects are plugged into the 2021 budget, “but hopefully those will lessen as the crisis ends.” She added no COVID-19 relief is expected in 2021, but that could change.

Income tax collections for 2021 are estimated at $22 million. Income tax revenue was $23.5 million in 2019, and is expected to be $21.5 million this year. Buccigross said the city is 86 percent dependent on income tax.

“Despite a one-month shutdown, our golf course rounds are up 2.7 percent this year,” she said. “That could be because more people turned to outside activities because of the coronavirus. Our fitness center operations suffered, though. The full-time golf course staff was reduced from nine to four.”

OTHER BUSINESS

Council sent to second reading legislation to collect state assessment fees for residential building permits (1 percent) and non-residential permits (3 percent) to comply with state building codes.

Buccigross explained currently the fees are paid out of the general fund, but the legislation would allow the city to collect both those fees and the permit fees paid by the customer, and the fees would be forwarded to the state monthly.

Buccigross reported the city so far has received 20 applications for small business grants. It has set aside $40,000 from $1.6 million in coronavirus relief funds for businesses affected by the crisis.

Council OK’d allowing videos of its caucus meetings, which take place prior to regular sessions, to be posted on the city’s website, and announced it will unveil revisions of Council rules, and possibly approve them, at its next meeting.

Council president Greg Bellan reported the charter change approved by voters Nov. 3, which decreases millage that Council can impose without a public vote, will officially be added to the charter in the first quarter of 2021.

Residents Bob Thewes and Michael Turle urged Council to discontinue the Community Improvement Corp., claiming it is a waste of time and money, and is not helping the city. They said the time spent on CIC activities by Director of Planning and Community Development Larry Finch could be put to better use.

Contact the newspaper at 330-541-9430, or twinsburgbulletin@recordpub.com.