The following is the latest installment of Mayor Jim Boroff's monthly updates on city issues.
As most residents of Tiffin are keenly aware, the upcoming year will present unprecedented challenges to our city government as we strive to maintain the highest levels of service to our citizens while at the same time facing revenue shortfalls.
Each city department head made every effort to trim his or her budget to the bare minimum - and I commend their efforts. However, even with these deep cuts, some departments are facing layoffs, unless the respective unions agree to concessions.
In 2009, the police and fire unions agreed to concessions to limit the layoffs to a single person. These concessions expire at the end of this year. The administration has begun negotiations with the unions concerning possible concessions for 2010. Everyone is deeply concerned about the welfare of the community and of the financial problems we are facing. But, until the budget is finalized, the city cannot provide the unions with a firm figure for needed concessions.
I am confident that once the unions know what specifically is needed, they will give my request serious consideration. I also know their final decisions will be based on a balance of citizen safety and their own members' well being. Whatever the outcome, I am positive that the fire and police personnel will make every effort to maintain safety services for our community.
Some of the considerations in preparing next year's budget include projected revenues for 2010 at $10,047,386, or about 93 percent of what was collected in the year 2008. Although it is difficult to speculate on this year's carryover, it is estimated we will have about $300,000 left to start the new year.
The mayor's proposed 2010 budget is balanced and reflects about $230,000 in relief to the General Fund from utilizing state-approved and -recommended sewer splits to help fund appropriate personnel for the percentage of time they spend on sewer-related administration, construction and maintenance issues.
Please note this information is based upon what I have proposed to City Council for next year's financial operating plan. As one of their prerogatives, City Council members have the right to amend, amplify and/or reject any and all of my proposed budget. The following is an encapsulation of my proposed budget and the major issues and consequences if accepted by Council:
Hourly Employees: All hourly employees will continue to work reduced hours at 32.5 hours per week, resulting in a 7-percent reduction in pay.
Salaried Employees: Salaried employees will continue to have their pay reduced at the 7-percent rate, but will maintain their full work hours.
Administration: All operational fees in the mayor's and city administrator's offices have been cut to the bare minimum, including supplies, equipment maintenance and travel expenses, which will be paid out of pocket by the mayor or city administrator.
Council Clerk: Not only will the council clerk be working reduced hours in the city administrator's office, but it will be recommended to the Charter Review Commission that she act as the recording clerk for that body. She will reimbursed in compensatory time, thus saving more than $4,000 which would normally be budgeted for that position.
Communication/IT position: No hiring for this position will be considered - at least through the first quarter. Any major projects that have been anticipated will be put on hold for that period of time. Maintenance on existing equipment will be prioritized and outsourced only if absolutely necessary.
Finance Department: Tax Commissioner Wayne Wax will be retiring mid-2010 and it is expected his replacement will come from within. It is anticipated any vacancy that occurs from internal hiring will be filled by the current part-time employee. That part-time position will not be filled.
Police Department: Chief David LaGrange has cut his operational and maintenance budgets to a minimum, but it is anticipated one officer might remain on layoff. One officer recently resigned, with that position being unfilled. One or two additional officers might face layoffs. The unpaid salary of Sgt. Fred Stevens also will result in a $50,500 savings to the city until his expected return in the fall of 2010.
Dispatch: Dispatch is down two persons, with one position now being filled by a police officer on layoff.
Fire Department: Chief William Ennis does not intend to replace the deputy fire chief, which will result in a $94,000 savings of salary and benefits. One firefighter will remain on layoff and two more may follow. This might result in the department being down six people from 2004 levels. Given the reduced numbers, Fire Station No. 2 may not be operational at all times.
Street Department: The 2009 personnel adjustments made in the street department will continue this next year. Now, two workers are laid off.
Park and Recreation Department: We are not budgeting for any part-time help in 2010. This will result in the following:
Because it is intended that the pool be closed, I am asking the park director to prepare budgetary information regarding the necessary repairs to the swimming pool. He and I have discussed these maintenance issues as well as the possibility of enhancing the pool to allow for handicapped access. We plan to approach the Tiffin Charitable Foundation to request part of the residuals from the Clive Lupton money to complete this project. It makes sense that, if the pool is closed, we complete this work if possible. We also will be making appeals to various individuals and organizations, soliciting money for the Fourth of July fireworks display and to maintain the summer youth programs.
It is regrettable we must work under these financial conditions. But, having consulted the department heads, I believe this proposed budget not only is workable but fairly distributes the economic burdens we are facing.
I truly believe if we all understand our common economic situation, city government can work cohesively to provide the entire scope of services for our citizens and we will be restored to full financial health in the shortest possible time. As always, I welcome constructive comments and suggestions in making this process work as effectively and efficiently as possible.
If you have any questions about any issues facing the city, please feel free to write to me in care of 51 E. Market St., Tiffin, or at email@example.com. I am happy to speak with anyone who has concerns, suggestions or questions about the city. You may call my office at (419) 448-5401 or stop by without an appointment. To ensure I am available, please call ahead.