City’s financial forecast sound

STEUBENVILLE – Administration officials issued a sound financial forecast for 2013, but warned the city faces deficits in 2014 and 2015.

Mayor and Acting City Manager Domenick Mucci told City Council members Tuesday night the city will receive $239,390 in reimbursement money from the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and $162,776 in an estate tax settlement from the state.

“That will allow us to finish 2013 in the black but only because of these one-time payments. These are one-time shots for the city and we can’t bank on this happening in the future,” Mucci said.

Finance Director Alyssa Kerker said her department will start working on a preliminary 2014 budget in June.

“We will prepare a draft to show where we will be at by 2015. We will be preparing a budget where everything is on the table for cost savings,” said Kerker.

According to 6th Ward Councilman and Finance Committee Chairman David Lalich, the city is currently forecasting a $1,009,000 deficit in 2014 and a $2,183,000 deficit in 2015.

Mucci warned the council members “to expect changes in our financial forecast.”

“I also want to caution this council we have already received indications from the state auditors that we will probably be required to pay money from the general fund back to the enterprise funds because of decisions in the past. We are anticipating ending this year with a $169,719 surplus but that could be quickly eaten up by paying back to the enterprise funds. This is encouraging news but we have to be cautious. And we will continue chipping away at the projected deficit in future years,” stated Mucci.

Second Ward Councilman Rick Perkins questioned why a maintenance worker II vacancy in the street department will not be filled.

“I have a tough time not filling positions like that. We don’t have enough people in our maintenance and repair department to get done what we need to do now. And we are probably going to lose 25 to 30 people in the next two to four years from the police, fire and maintenance and repair departments. This council needs to direct the Civil Service Commission to start testing for jobs in those departments so we have an eligibility list,” Perkins declared.

During a utility committee meeting, Mucci announced he was prepared to sign an agreement with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for future treatment of leachate at the former city landfill near the Jefferson County Airpark.

“I wanted the council to be updated on the current status of the landfill before I proceed,” Mucci said.

City Engineer Michael Dolak said the city has a contractor preparing to install two wetlands at the landfill at a $474,000 cost.

“We will eventually have to clean the landfill so we need to start moving into our next mode. We hope to get credit from the OEPA because we are installing the wetlands. Now we want to enter into a watch, monitor and wait mode. The installation of the wetlands will start June 17 and we will be completed before the Oct. 1 deadline,” explained Dolak.

Kerry Zwierschke of Bennett & Williams Environmental Consultants Inc. told the council members the city has been proactive, “and you have a good relationship with the OEPA. The water from the landfill area has a high concentration of iron and ammonia and we will have to treat that water.

“You have abandoned coal mines there and refuse from the landfill there. There is a certain amount of flexibility so we will sit down and negotiate a plan with the OEPA and move forward,” Zwierschke said.

Council held a brief special regular meeting to approve two emergency ordinances directing the acting city manager to sign agreements with the Community for Youth Development and the LaBelle Neighbors Who Care to operate the Belleview Pool this summer.

Council had tabled the legislation last week pending a review and clarification of the legal agreements.

Councilman at-large Kenny Davis has said he would like to see the pool opened with volunteer workers by June 8.

During the council sunshine meeting, Lalich introduced legislation to create a third community services worker coordinator position for the municipal court.

Lalich also introduced a measure to amend current language governing the city firefighters union deferred compensation as required by the Internal Revenue Service.

And 5th Ward Councilman Willie Paul proposed a resolution honoring the Catholic Central High School sports program for winning championships three out of the past five years.

Mucci announced a paving bid for John Scott Highway from Sunset Boulevard to Sinclair Avenue and the intersection with Mall Drive was awarded to Shelley & Sands Inc. of Rayland at a $1,663,618.90 price tag.

Dolak said the city’s share of the project will be $80,000.

And Lalich requested a safety committee meeting be scheduled for 6:20 p.m. Tuesday in executive session to discuss personnel.