Northwood City Council is expected to vote on whether to cut the salary of the interim zoning inspector at a meeting this month as a result of the poor economy.
Kimberly Grames became the city’s interim zoning inspector after former zoning inspector Heather Sayler accepted a job with the City of Bowling Green last year.
Grames, who was paid an annual salary of $25,000 as Sayler’s assistant, currently makes $43,394 annually, the same salary Sayler made in the zoning inspector position.
The Finance and Economic Development committees weeks ago recommended to council that Grames become the permanent zoning inspector and be paid the same salary as Sayler.
Council, though, is having second thoughts.
With lower income tax revenue flowing into city coffers, the city decided not to fill the assistant zoning inspector’s position, thereby saving $25,000. After Finance Director Toby Schroyer told council that income tax revenue is down by $197,000 for the first six months this year compared to last year, council will vote on whether to cut Grames’ salary to $39,970, a figure Councilman Ed Schimmel is recommending based on the national average of zoning inspector salaries in the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2007.
Those on council who oppose cutting Grames’ salary say the city is not only saving $25,000 by not filling the assistant’s position, but is also saving $10,000 after Grames declined health insurance. If the budget is so unstable, perhaps there should be cuts for all employees, they insist.
Just how sound is the budget?
If you ask Schroyer, it’s pretty stable.
Despite the drop in revenue, Schroyer recently told The Press that council shouldn’t assume that the city is having budget problems. In fact, far from it, he said.
“We’re down about 8 percent, or about $197,000 this year compared to last year,” said Schroyer. “That’s spread out between more than just the general fund, where the payroll comes out of. You have to remember we budgeted more revenue than expenditures. So even if we are under in revenues, we’re still going to be okay because we had expected that. If you’re just looking at the general fund, where the majority of our payroll comes out of, we budgeted for revenues of $5,345,000 and expenditures of $5,153,000. So that’s a couple of thousand dollars less right off the bat. Plus, we never even come close to spending all the appropriations. We don’t allow that to happen. Even though it’s in the budget, we’re being real careful, especially this year.”
The city has 15 financial accounts besides the general fund, he said.
“We are going to spend more as a whole with all the funds, but there are balances in the funds before the year starts. We had a $1.6 million balance going into this year,” he said.
Seventy-percent of income tax revenue goes into the general fund, 20 percent into the capital improvement fund, and 10 percent goes into the capital replacement fund, he said.
“Even though we’re collecting less in those capital funds because the income tax revenue is down, we’ve also eliminated capital projects or expenditures for this year, such as new police cars,” he said.
Schroyer said the city is far from any budget crisis.
“We are being fiscally responsible, so we’re not in any dire straits. We budget conservatively. We knew revenues were going to be lower this year, so we lowered our expenditures. It’s up to the interpretation of what council members may feel about that, but there’s no fiscal emergency. We’re light years away from having any fiscal problems.”