Northwood City Council gave first reading to an ordinance to cut the pay of the mayor and city council by 10 percent.
It is the latest cost cutting measure by the city, as it struggles to adjust to a reduction of income tax collections in the last year as a result of the economic recession.
If passed, the ordinance would cut the annual salaries of the mayor and council to $10,800 from $12,000, and to $6,300 from $7,000, respectively.
The measure would not become effective until 2012.
The city has already cut the 2010 budget by 30.6 percent, laid off staff, cut department budgets, instituted eight unpaid furlough days for salaried staff, cut non-union pay by 3 percent, eliminated the senior program, instituted a hiring freeze for all departments, froze all capital improvement and replacement projects since last year, stopped rentals of shelter houses, closed the community room for rentals,
“We have made adjustments, instituted new policies, taken on more job duties, reduced staff, reduced costs, and not approved purchases. We’re simply always looking for ways to save money,” said City Administrator Pat Bacon.
Other cost cuts in the last two and a half years include:
• A 12 percent savings in the city engineer’s contract;
• No hourly rate increase for the city attorney’s contract;
• A 12 percent savings in the negotiated contract with a temporary staffing service;
• A reduced Civil Service budget from $8,000 to $2,000;
• A 29.1 percent budget cut this year for the Streets & Building/Grounds Department;
• Two currently vacant utility worker positions were never filled;
• Elimination of salting side streets, just intersections and main roads;
• Splitting snow removal crews to 12-hour shift work to create less overtime;
• Using road fuel to save money on road taxed fuel;
• Eliminating lawn service. Buildings and grounds personnel now spray and fertilize lawns and parks;
• Shutting water off at Brentwood and Central parks.
• Cutting budget of police department by 10.3 percent this year’
• Freezing the purchase of police cars last year. Seventy percent of capital replacement budget was not used;
• Cancellation of police vehicles’ GPS service last year;
• Reducing the animal control officer from part-time to on-call status only;
• Employing only one crossing guard at State Route 51 and Lemoyne Road intersection;
• Reducing patrol overtime last year by 52 percent by having 16 road patrol officers;
• Reducing fleet of vehicles from 17 to 14;
• Eliminating through attrition two vacant dispatcher positions, and reducing full-time dispatchers from six to four;
• The lay-off of three full-time police patrol officers;
• The lay-off of full-time administrative secretary;
• Cutting the Zoning Department budget 37.1 percent this year;
• Cutting the Finance Department budget by 30.6 percent this year;
• Cutting the court office budget by 13.8 percent this year,
The city plans to post a complete list of cost savings on its Web site at http://www.ci.northwood.oh.us/.
Bacon said the city needs to implement a plan as income tax collections continue drop.
“I definitely think we need a plan,” she said. “To wait another month, and wait and see, I just don’t think that’s going to do it. We’re going to need to make more cuts. And where do we make them? That’s my question to council. The only place I see out of the General Fund is cutting more jobs and more positions,” said Bacon.
City officials have discussed, although only briefly, asking voters for an 0.25 increase in its 1.5 percent city income tax rate for five years to stem the continuing loss of revenue and reducing the tax credit for residents who work outside the city.
“We talked about the quarter percent tax, and the revenue it would bring in, but no decision was made at that time,” said Councilman and Finance Committee Chairman Mike Myers in his finance committee report to council on April 8.
He also said the committee discussed reducing the tax credit for residents living outside the city, but there was no support for the proposal.
Mayor Mark Stoner told council at the meeting that income tax collections continue to slide, with city coffers down by over nearly 18 percent to date compared to last year.
“Income tax collections to March 31 are at $820,033, a decrease of $178,108, or 17.8 percent from the same period in 2009. If we ended the year with income tax collections down 17.8 percent, we would need to cut $801,702 in expenditures in the 2010 budget,” said Stoner.
Seventy-percent of that amount, or $561,191, would be from the General Fund, he added.
“Personnel cuts already made in the General Fund total $387,835, leaving an estimated General Fund deficit of $173,356,” said Stoner.
Also at the meeting, council gave a second reading to an ordinance that would amend the city’s taxation code to eliminate the 10 percent income tax disbursement into the capital replacement fund. Those funds, which total approximately $1 million, would be reallocated into the General Fund if council votes for final passage.
The city currently disburses 70 percent of income taxes into the General Fund, 20 percent into the capital improvements fund, and 10 percent into the capital replacement fund.
If the capital replacement fund is eliminated, 80 percent of the income tax would be disbursed into the General Fund, and 20 percent would continue to be disbursed into the capital improvements fund.
The reallocation would allow the city to use the funds that had been earmarked for capital replacement for other city expenses.