City to end year with surplus

STEUBENVILLE – City officials announced Tuesday night they anticipate finishing the year with a nearly $1 million cash carryover surplus in the city’s general fund and are projecting a cash surplus of $538,000 at the end of 2014.

Mayor and Acting City Manager Domenick Mucci said the city had been projecting a $1.5 million deficit earlier this year.

“But we are projecting to finish the year with a $996,984 cash carryover in the general fund,” said Mucci.

“First of all I want to thank the council for legislation approved during the summer. Second, we have seen an increase of approximately $200,000 in our city income tax collection. And we saw an estate tax settlement of about $300,000 that we did not anticipate this year,” explained Mucci.

“One of the key ingredients in cutting costs this year has been savings realized from changes in our health care program that were approved by a majority of the health care containment committee. That allows us to project the cash carryover in 2014 and a projection of a cash carryover in 2015. But these remain projections,” continued Mucci.

According to Finance Director Alyssa Kerker, the city also has seen savings in its general fund, “with a decrease in our electric utility costs and usage. The city is also scaling back on what we use. Everyone in the city worked very hard to get to this point.”

“The 2014 budget is still a work in progress. We will have three months in 2014 to finalize the 2014 budget. We still have issues in our water fund that we will have to address,” noted Kerker.

The financial news came during a council finance committee meeting called to discuss year-end legislation that was introduced during the Tuesday night council session.

During the sunshine meeting, 2nd Ward Councilman Rick Perkins introduced two ordinances from the planning committee, including changes to the building code and legislation to govern vacant residential properties in the city.

Third Ward Councilman Greg Metcalf proposed six ordinances for consideration at the final council meeting of the year Tuesday, including authorizing the finance director to transfer $27,954 from the general fund to the annual summer food program.

Kerker said she anticipates the city seeing a refund for the money from a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant.

Additional legislation introduced by Metcalf included adoption of a revenue tax budget for 2013 and a final appropriations budget for 2013, a revenue tax budget for 2013 and a temporary appropriations budget for 2014.

Metcalf also proposed an ordinance to pay bills without a purchase order that exceed $3,000.

And during a special regular meeting, council unanimously approved a new 13-month wage and benefit contract with Local 228 of the International Association of Fire Firefighters.

The firefighters ratified the agreement last week.

“Earlier this year we successfully negotiated a new contract with the Fraternal Order of Police Ohio Labor Council and now have a new contract with the firefighters. We anticipate starting negotiations soon with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2015. This contract with the firefighters will reduce the minimum manning level from 10 to nine people and will allow us to reduce overtime in the department,” Mucci stated.

Assistant Fire Chief Mike Taylor, who participated in the contract talks, said the union tried to reduce overtime through proper staffing “that will make sure the community and firefighters are protected.”

Taylor said the firefighters will receive a 2.75 percent pay raise for the 13-month contract.

“It is my hope with the two new council members coming into office that we can educate the council on what we as firefighters do and at the same time we can educate our union members on the financial constraints facing the city,” Taylor said.

Council also met for a 15-minute executive session to discuss personnel issues regarding to the new city manager. Mucci said Timothy Boland made a brief visit to Steubenville Tuesday afternoon.