EAST LIVERPOOL - A 2013 budget almost identical to the previous year's will be presented for City Council's consideration at its meeting on Monday, recommended by the finance committee.
Appropriations totaling $16.7 million, including a $4.8 million general fund, include very little increases from 2012, according to Auditor Kim Woomer, who told the committee Tuesday that health insurance costs did rise by about $16 per month per employee.
In addition, the Broadway Wharf budget was increased from $1,000 to $2,200, which committee Chairman Sherrie Curtis said was the result of the volunteers who maintain the facility having to eliminate the pop machine, its primary fund-raising method, due to repeated vandalism.
She said for as hard as the volunteers work and as nice as the facility is kept, it was decided the extra funding was justified.
Councilman Ray Perorazio - a retired city firefighter himself - asked if the fire department's budget remained the same and was advised it had.
During the meeting, Perorazio said a proposed salary increase for employees is "going to look bad" if the city doesn't come up with money to clean up the former Riverview Florist property.
Service-Safety Director Ryan Estell pointed out the overall cleanup plan would have to include asbestos remediation which "is not cheap," but assured Perorazio, "I think there are some things we can do to make the property look better."
He said he will be bringing a proposal to council "very soon" for use of part of the property.
Meanwhile, Woomer will be investigating a question raised by Perorazio about $15,000 he said came from the former owner and was set aside for cleaning up the property.
Estell said the Patrick Foundation donated $7,500 for the cleanup, prompting Perorazio to say that $21,000, then, should be available. Woomer disputed those figures but agreed to research the issue.
Woomer said the salary hikes for employees, two new cruisers and a fit mask system mandated for the fire department have been included in the 2013 budget.
The committee agreed to forward the budget to council for at least its first reading.
The committee also forwarded for council's consideration a resolution opposing the passage of House Bill 5 by the Ohio General Assembly, which proposes uniformity for municipal income tax.
Chairman Sherrie Curtis reiterated her concern that the bill is a step toward centralization of tax collection and could result in a delay in receiving tax revenue as well as possible loss in revenue.
"I don't know if it does any good to send this to our state representatives, but if we remain silent, then shame on us. We get what we deserve," Curtis cautioned.
Mayor Jim Swoger reported on his upcoming trip to the nation's capital, where he will meet with Congressman Bill Johnson's staff, saying he has been asked by state Rep. Nick Barborak to broach the issue of sequestration and the damage it will cause this area.
He will also discuss during his visit the city's hiring of Better City LLC for revitalization and the need for money for razing blighted properties.
"Hopefully, they'll listen, and I honestly think they will," Swoger said.
Planning Director Bill Cowan addressed the committee about an upcoming Planning Commission meeting in regard to a developer seeking a zone change to pave the way for a new retail store in the East End, asking that council consider expediting its end of the process if the change is approved by the commission.
Council would have to consider the commission's recommendation and schedule a public hearing.
Cowan said a representative of the company interested in the property will be flying in from Tennessee to attend the commission meeting.