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Council members seek specifics before passing budget
by Adam Elrod
July 17, 2013 01:06 PM | 1739 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Hiram City Council last week delayed approval of the city’s fiscal year 2014 budget after members sought more exact numbers on 2014 expenditures.

The council voted 4-1 for the delay with Mayor Pro Tem Derrick Battle the only no vote. Without approving a budget they had to vote to continue using money from the fiscal 2013 budget to cover costs.

“I had spoken in detail with the city manager and I felt comfortable with the budget,” Battle said.

Other council members said they wanted more exact numbers on expected 2014 expenditures, such as bills and employee pay.

City Manager Robbie Rokovitz said the numbers cannot be exact during the budgeting process because of the unknown cost of such items as future power usage or overtime pay.

“We will never, ever, ever have those [numbers],” he said.

The budget was proposed at $6,183,983, and would use $187,890 from reserves and $511,485 from certificates of deposit to balance.

“We have got to recognize more revenue,” Rokovitz said. “Cutting $500,000 is tough to do and keep giving the level of service.”

Post 3 Councilwoman Teresa Philyaw said, “I’m not happy with [the] cell phones and travel [budget].”

The proposed budget amount for training and travel is $50,000, while city employee cell phone usage is budgeted at about $29,000.

She said she wants to find out how many phones and how much training is necessary.

Training for police and other employees that need the training should not be cut, she said.

“We are trying to scale back so we don’t use the savings,” Philyaw said.

She and other members had more questions they wanted answered before voting on the budget. They plan to schedule a work session to discuss further concerns at a date and time to be determined.

Mayor Doris Devey said she would like to see a budget passed as soon as possible.

“I would hope after the work session to have a special called meeting [to vote],” she said.

Also in the work session they plan to discuss locating other possible forms of revenue. They have no specific ideas yet, she said.

The council also took the legally required step to approve a millage rate. However, they approved a rate of zero instead of 2.519, which Rokovitz had figured would bring in $493,000 in revenue from a property tax.

He and the city staff also recommended not imposing the tax.

“One of the main things we are proud about as a council is not having city property tax,” Battle said.

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