MACEDONIA -- The city's general fund budget is up 4 percent this year, down from prior years, but officials say the city won't be able to repair any roads.
City Council passed the budget at its March 23 Council meeting, by a vote of 4-1 with Councilors Kevin Bilkie, Dave Engle, Nick Molnar and Jan Tulley voting in favor, and Councilor Sylvia Hanneken voting against.
Finance Director Rhonda Hall said the general fund budget for 2017 was "only up by 4.07 percent" from last year's budget. In 2016 the city spent $11.3 million, while this year is budgeting just under $13.3. However, the fire department budget has increased due to the merger with Northfield Center and Sagamore Hills townships. Those costs are offset by payments from the townships.
Hall said the 2016 general fund budget was down about 14 percent from 2015, while the 2015 general fund budget increased from 2014 by more than 20 percent.
"This is just the budget -- we haven't even spent the money yet," Hall said.
Part of the increase is due to items Council approved in 2016, such as filling vacant positions in the police department and jail. Hall said people were hired as replacements partway into the year last year but their wages and benefits are now reflected in the budget.
The overall budget is down from last year, when the city budgeted $21.5 million last year. The budget for 2017 is $2 million less at $19.5. The city only spent $18.8 million in 2016 according to the year's end numbers.
The projected carryover for the end of the year is $824,000, according to Hall.
Hall said the debt the city owed for city hall and the recreation center buildings has been paid but the city has taken on new debt and some old debt increased, leaving only $208,000 in surplus.
The budget provides $480,000 for capital expenditures, down from the $967,000 spent last year. Hall said the amount budgeted for 2017 is to fund the Sioux Lane culvert project, which is estimated to cost $250,000, another $150,000 for street repairs, $50,000 for crack sealing and $30,000 for EPA compliance.
Hanneken said her main concern is that the city is spending no money on roads.
She said funds could be used for roadwork by cutting the operating budget by $200,000, along with $30,000 from the law department's litigation budget, though that budget was set $40,000 lower than was spent last year.
Hanneken also said the city could take $200,000 from the rainy day fund, along with money from water maintenance and expansion fees and permissive license tax fees.
"All in all, that's around $630,000 that could be used for road repair," Hanneken said explaining her vote.
Molnar responded by saying cutting operating funds is not an option.
"We need to be very careful when we talk about what we are going to cut," Molnar said. "You have to remember we are funding our departments very lean right now and those cuts would affect our safety forces. At this point I don't know that it's a wise idea to start cutting into the safety forces funds because that means we are less safe."
He added he thinks safety is more important than the roads. Molnar also said he felt it was important to have money budgeted for litigation because lawsuits "happen fast." He also addressed Hanneken's proposal to utilize funds from the water maintenance fund saying those funds cannot be used to pave roads.
"Legally, the only way it can be used is for water-type problems," Molnar said.
Mayor Joe Migliorini said pulling $200,000 "here and there" from different funds isn't enough to fix the problem with the roads.
"This city is in a fiscal crisis," Migliorini said. "We have a $41 million problem over the next five years with $20 million in roads (to fix)."
Briana Barker: 330-541-9432