Oregon's budget holding steady from years past

Michael J. Beazley, Oregon Municipal Administrator.
Michael J. Beazley, Oregon Municipal Administrator.

Oregon officials have been tightening the city's belt, and anticipate their operating budget next year will be about the same as it was in 2010. 

Municipal Administrator Michael Beazley's rough draft of spending in 2013 projects outlines about $16.3 million. This compares to actual spending in 2010 of $16.28 million. Spending in 2011 was down, at about $15.13 million.

This year, the city budgeted about $16 million in spending, and is expected to come in under that figure by the end of December.

"Oregon has been consistently trying to find ways to maintain quality services while we spend less money," Mr. Beazley said. "We continue to be in a strong financial position and consistently balance our budget."

Which is not to say there haven't been challenges. In recent years, the city has lost annual revenue of close to $2 million from a combination of factors, including Ohio's phasing out of the personal property tax on businesses, reductions in the state's local revenue fund support, a decline in investment income, and the abolition of the estate tax.

The city's largest source of revenue is its 2.25 percent income tax, which will generate about $10.4 million this year for the general fund. To be safe, Mr. Beazley told council members at a finance committee meeting, "We're budgeting for no income tax increase in 2013."

The city's biggest cost by far is public safety, with anticipated spending of $9.8 million in 2013 for police, fire, and municipal court.

Oregon has not laid off employees, but it is downsizing its work force as retirements occur, and will realize an $800,000 saving with the elimination of 11 positions.

Other savings include $350,000 by taking advantage of a state law that allows the avoidance of bed charges at the Lucas County jail, $250,000 by trimming Oregon Municipal Court costs, and $200,000 through miscellaneous reductions in areas such as telephones, utilities, and cleaning. Altogether, the city is implementing more than $2 million in savings initiatives.

Oregon's other long-term savings objectives include making its municipal complex more energy efficient with new windows and related upgrades.

Mr. Beazley told council members he would like to "soft bill" insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid for fire department emergency runs.

This proposal of billing a third party came up in 2008, before he joined the city, and was opposed by some firefighters. Mr. Beazley said most other communities have adopted this practice, which is part of his plan over the long term to maintain Oregon's financial stability.

In other business, council at its regular meeting authorized a special use permit for a Verizon Wireless tower at 951 N. Curtice Rd. The tower will be 260 feet high and 730 feet from the centerline of Curtice.

The request had already passed muster with the city's planning commission. On Oct. 16, after a public hearing, it voted 4-0 to to recommend that council grant approval.  The council vote was unanimous.

-- Carl Ryan