The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 12, 2012

Conneaut council wants time to mull 2013 budget

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — City Council wants more time to ponder a proposed 2013 budget.

Administrators, who had hoped the budget would get approval at Monday’s council meeting, instead heard members say they needed a few more days to study all the numbers.

Ward 1 Councilman Doug Hedrick, sponsor of the legislation, moved the budget legislation to a second reading. “I’ve already spent quite a bit of time with this budget, but I would like to study it a little bit more,” he said.

Council President Thomas Udell agreed. “It will take a little more thought from me,” he said.

A budget must be approved by the end of the year. The calendar indicates council — which meets on the second and fourth Mondays of the month — has one more regular meeting this year, but the date is in question. The next meeting falls on Dec. 24, but a Christmas Eve session is very unlikely. Last month, City Manager Tim Eggleston said administrators had hoped council would not hold a meeting during the week of Christmas.

A special council meeting next week to enact the budget is a possibility.

Eggleston and Finance Director John Williams presented council with a $16.4 million budget that varied little from the 2012 model — except this one is packed with big-ticket capital improvement projects, such as a new water tank on Creek Road and sewer line replacements. The bulk of the work will be funded through grants and low-interest loans, officials have said.

Absent from the budget are any large-scale street/road repair projects. Money will exist for only the essentials, such as pot-hole filling, officials have said.

While council did not approve the budget Monday, members did approve a handful of legislation related to next year’s numbers, including:

• A 2 percent sewer rate increase for 2013 and another 2 percent hike in 2014 needed to help finance long-overdue sewer-related projects. Fees are based on a complex formula involving water usage, but on average rates from minimum users will climb about 40 cents a month next year and another 40 cents in 2014. The average water user will see their sewer rates jump about 72 cents over the same period. Council approved the measure by a 6-1 vote. Udell, who questioned the need to set up two years of increases were needed, opposed the measure.