Northwood City Council on Dec. 15 was unable to pass the city’s 2012 budget.
That’s because costs for increased Basic Life Support (BLS) were included in the budget, which some on council had opposed.
Mayor Mark Stoner plans to beef up the city’s BLS with capital replacement funds, which were reallocated into the general fund last year to reduce the strain on the general budget as a result of fewer income tax collections.
With an increase in income tax revenue this year, Stoner wants to use some of the capital replacement funds for BLS.
But Councilman Dave Gallaher, who is opposed, said the city should use the funds for capital replacement, not BLS.
“We have not really done anything in the city,” Gallaher said after the meeting. “Council has really tightened the belt in spending in the last couple of years. But everything that has not been done still needs to be done. The things that weren’t purchased, the things that were not repaired, still have to be done. Reallocating the capital replacement fund would be a mistake. The way the mayor wants to move the money around, in the long run, is going to be detrimental to the city. I really do believe that.”
Last year, Northwood City Council voted in favor of an ordinance to amend the city’s taxation code to eliminate a 10 percent income tax disbursement into the capital replacement fund and reallocated it into the general fund. The 10 percent disbursement totaled about $400,000 per year. Before the ordinance, the city had disbursed 70 percent of income taxes into the general fund, 20 percent into the capital improvements fund, and 10 percent into the capital replacement fund.
After the elimination of monies going into the capital replacement fund, 80 percent of the income tax was disbursed into the general fund, and 20 percent into the capital improvements fund.
Gallaher said the city needs capital replacement funds to finance infrastructure projects, such as providing the local share of the railroad overpass project on Wales Road. “We still have a responsibility to do that,” he said.
And the city is also dealing with the closure of the Woodville Mall last week after the Wood County Health Department found various zoning code violations that the owners are unable to fix.
“There’s a big question mark financially. The bottom line is, if the owners don’t take care of that, the city could be on the hook for that, even if it’s nothing more than overseeing the building to make sure it’s secure and safe. There’s just a lot of things we have to be looking at down the road,” said Gallaher.
“When we do need the money for improvements and purchases, it’s not going to be there,” he added.
Stoner said council has yet to approve a proposed ordinance that puts part of the income tax disbursement back in the capital replacement fund.
“If they don’t approve that ordinance, it stays 80/20. You want to put some, at least, back into capital replacement,” he said. “They said they wanted to move some of this back. I think it’s the right thing to do. But part of it should go to pay for BLS.”
Councilman Ed Schimmel, who was opposed to passing the budget, said at the meeting he would be in favor of putting the matter before the public by placing a fire levy on the ballot to fund the program.
“I understand that,” Stoner said following the meeting. “But a motion was made a couple months ago to put BLS in my budget. The motion passed 4-3. So that tells me that there are four councilmen who want to pass my budget.”
Councilman Dean Edwards, who was also opposed to the budget, and Gallaher said at the meeting that they wanted a five year economic plan in place before they would vote in favor of the budget.
“I can’t pass this budget without a five year plan,” said Gallaher at the meeting.
Councilman Randy Kozina, who is in favor of the budget that includes spending for BLS, said at the meeting that the city has never before had a five year plan.
Council will again consider the budget at a special council meeting on Dec. 28. The city, by law, must have a budget in place by 2012.
“If council doesn’t pass the budget on Dec. 28, they’ll have to pass at least some type of a provisional funding for the first 30 days of the month,” said Stoner. “If they don’t, we can’t pay our bills, can’t pay our employees – we can’t do anything.”