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Elyria Council's Finance Committee refers 2019 budget to full Council for vote

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ELYRIA — City Council will be handed for approval a proposed 2019 budget of more than $31 million when it next meets March 18.

Finance Director Ted Pileski on Monday told Council’s Finance Committee that some of the last minute changes included previously approved raises for Elyria Municipal Court staff and “small changes” to appropriations for road salt purchases and overtime costs for snow removal.

City departments had requested slightly more than $32 million in spending for 2019. There is another approximately $787,000 in surplus

Issue 6 funds that can either be “dispensed or carried over,” committee chairman Councilman Vic Stewart, D-at large, said.

The city is required to pass a balanced budget by March 31.

Elyria began 2019 with $3,357,985 in cash, according to numbers provided by Pileski and Deputy Finance Director John Farrell. That was due in part to improved income tax revenue in city coffers, with collections breaking $21 million after failing to hit $20 million the previous year.

City income tax revenue was up 7.18 percent in 2018, with its general fund carryover doubling to $3.3 million from the previous year.

Total estimated revenue — an estimate Pileski cautioned is “conservative” — was $27,962,400, leaving city officials and Council members $31,320,385 to appropriate this year while acting under temporary appropriations.

Department heads requested $32,012,430 in general fund spending, or about $692,000 more than was available. With some capital spending projects cut out, the requests were whittled down over the past two weeks to where city officials had $4 they still could afford to appropriate, Farrell said.

Council President Mike Lotko also cautioned committee members that while they were able to bring the budget so close to a balance, the city still has many projects to be funded.

“These needs aren’t going to go away,” he warned.

One item committee members agreed late Monday to remove from Issue 6 fund spending for the year was the proposed salary and benefits for a city economic development director. That left Mayor Holly Brinda, who has been doing much of that work herself, sounding disappointed.

The need for the position and increased economic development “hasn’t gone away” even as the city has had difficulty recruiting someone to take the job, Brinda said.

Voters passed Issue 6 in 2016, a half-percent income tax that promised $500,000 annually for economic development over the life of the issue.

“While as mayor I’ve done the best I can, having that position certainly would advance that agenda even more,” Brinda said.

Contact Dave O’Brien at (440) 329-7129 or do’brien@chroniclet.com. Follow him at @daveobrienCT on Twitter.


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