The outgoing Bell administration today released its proposed 2014 general fund budget – predicting slight growth in the city's economy but flat revenues overall, chiefly from the elimination of money from Ohio's estate tax.
The proposal - submitted one day ahead of the Nov. 15 deadline - includes $165.2 million in expected revenue from the city's 2.25 percent in income tax. That is about 2 percent over the 2013 estimate.
The city in 2013 received $3.4 million from the estate tax, which it will not receive in 2013. The general fund is also impacted by the “ongoing phase out of local government revenue sharing from the state,” said Deputy Mayor Steve Herwat.
The proposed 2014 total revenue is budgeted at $657.8 million with $653.5 million in expenditures. General fund revenues are budgeted at $244.78 million and proposed general fund expenditures total $244.76 million, which would leave an anticipated surplus of about $20,000 at the end of 2014.
The proposed budget transfers $14.1 million from the city's capital improvement fund – the same amount taken in 2013 – and uses it to keep the general fund budget balanced.
Mayor Bell's last budget assumes casino revenue will increase $600,000, but the city will get nearly $1 million less from red light and speed traffic cameras.
The budget could go through revisions by Mayor-elect D. Michael Collins after he takes office Jan. 2. Toledo City Council must approve the budget by March 31.
Mayor Bell's proposal leaves money for 30 new police officer recruits to be hired in December, 2014, but he has recommended “the majority of other vacancies” not be filled.
There is no funding for new firefighters in the proposed budget but the city expects to administer a firefighter civil service exam in May, 2014, Mr. Herwat said.
“Reductions are expected in both police and fire overtime costs as new classes graduate from the two academies,” said a statement from the mayor's office. “Fire overtime is recommended for $1.7 million and police overtime is recommended for $2.2 million.”
“The past four years have proved to be an economic challenge for Toledo and the nation, however I am proud that we have controlled our spending and managed to get a better grasp on our budget and financial planning for the city,” Mayor Bell said. “I’m pleased to be able to hand over a budget proposal that includes realistic revenue and expenditure recommendations for consideration by the incoming administration and city council.”