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Published: Wednesday, 12/13/2006

Sylvania likely to OK 2007 budget

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Sylvania Council next week could vote to approve the city's proposed $38.3 million budget for 2007.

During council's recent finance committee meeting, members voted to recommend to the full council that the budget be approved.

The budget earmarks about $10.5 million for the general fund that involves funds for the police department; parks and recreation; the administrative staff, and wages for other city employees.

Finance committee members last week listened to Mayor Craig Stough's answers to questions raised by Councilman Doug Haynam, who had concerns about the rate of budget growth in the general fund. He was interested in learning why the budgets in some departments were expanding.

Mr. Stough explained that wages and health insurance costs are going up, and other expenses, such as fuel costs, have increased as well during the last year.

In response to Mr. Haynam's questions about the correctional programs budget, the mayor said that some of the higher cost stems from an increased use of bed space for prisoners. Mr. Stough noted that the city no longer has its own jail; prisoners have to be sent to Lucas County or to the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio near Stryker.

The city also now pays Lucas County to transport prisoners; for a long time, the county didn't charge for that service, he said. Although Mr. Haynam and Councilman Mark Luetke were able to get a good contract for the services, there still is a fee involved, the mayor said.

Mr. Haynam also questioned the city's proposed budget for community programs and asked if the city's funding of such programs was being impacted as a result of actions by the Sylvania Township trustees.

Several weeks ago, Trustee Carol Contrada made a motion to allocate township funds for three community-related programs, but the motion failed for a lack of a second from Trustees Pam Hanley and DeeDee Liedel. Trustees, who are working to address an anticipated budget deficit for 2007, haven't yet decided whether to fund nonprofit agencies and community programs next year.

However, some residents speculate that no funding will be available from the township.

Some agencies seek financial support from both the city and the township. However, Mayor Stough said that the city plans to continue funding the community programs at the same levels.

Mr. Luetke asked whether the city needs to change its funding levels for the programs, but the mayor said that it wouldn't be right for the city to rush in and allocate more money to make up for shortfalls that occur because of township decisions.

Other ways to fund community programs could be considered, Mr. Stough said.

Mayor Stough was happy to explain why the city's proposed budget shows an anticipated increase of 4.5 per cent in income tax receipts in the coming year and said, "thank you for noticing."

The increase has occurred in part because the city has annexed new areas and has attracted new businesses, he said, adding that bumping up the revenue from income tax receipts was a goal of the administration.

Additional revenue generated from the payroll tax allows the city to provide services to residents without raising taxes, he said.

The operating budget, which includes a 12 per cent increase in medical insurance costs, essentially will allow the city to continue to maintain its current programs, according to John Plock, finance director.



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