|Resident tells council 'Cuts, cuts and more cuts'|
|Wednesday, July 31, 2013 1:07 AM|
BY NANCY SPENCER
DELPHOS — Tim Honigford of East Fourth Street had five words for Delphos City Council Tuesday night: “Cuts, cuts and more cuts.”
Honigford addressed council and the more than 35 people in the gallery after the second reading of two pieces of legislation to put a 1/4-percent income tax increase on the Nov. 5 General Election Ballot. The tax increase would generate approximately $400,000 per year.
The city is facing lost revenues of approximately $865,000 in utilities from the closure of Reser’s Fine Foods in September, lost more than $400,000 in utility fees when Chef Solutions filed bankruptcy in 2013 and lost $60,000 in income revenue when I&K Distributions was sold to Lipari Food. The city has also seen reductions in Local Governments Funds from the state. The city received $240,000 in LGF in 2008 and in 2013, received $79,000. The elimination of the Inheritance Tax cost the city $70,000 in funds.
“People here can’t afford more rate increases. You need to make substantial cuts to prove you are a lean, mean city. You need to institute immediate cuts,” Honigford said. “Why would you expect people to pay a tax increase when we’ve seen no change?”
Honigford also told council they shouldn’t be taking a paycheck until the problem was solved.
“You guys need to put your money back in the kitty,” he said.
Councilman Kevin Osting readily agreed to not take pay.
Honigford went on to say he didn’t want to see anyone lose their job but he felt it had to happen. He also talked about the way the city looks now compared to when he was younger.
“Look at this town. We’ve got a bunch of slumlord properties and junk rentals no one takes care of,” he said. “I’ve lived here my whole life. Don’t you see how much this town has deteriorated? Paying more income tax is not going to change that.”
Auditor Tom Jettinghoff provided facts and figures requested by council at last Tuesday’s special meetings.
He had overtime hours for every department dating back to 2005. In 2012, fire, police, water and wastewater were the top four in overtime. While the fire department had the second-least amount in total paid in wages of the four at $471,010, overtime was nearly 20 percent of those wages at $93,570. The police department’s overtime was almost 10 percent of its total wages of $831,435 and water and sewer were 7 percent and 4 percent respectively, of total wages of $364,005 and $415,781.
The 2011 figures were similar with the fire department overtime at 16 percent of total wages; the police department, nearly 13 percent; the water department, 7 percent; and the sewer, 3 percent.
Jettinghoff also provided his best “guestimate” of the savings the water and sewer departments will see by not providing water and return services to Reser’s Fine Foods once the food processing plant is closed.
“This is difficult but I gave it my best shot,” Jettinghoff said.
His worksheet showed in 2012, Reser’s used 168,459 gallons of water per day, 18 percent of the total daily production. Without the cost of producing Reser’s water, there was a variable cost savings of $48,776 for the year.
The wastewater variable cost savings were estimated at $53,514 a year, with Reser’s contribution nine percent of total production.
Safety Service Director Greg Berquist handed out a memorandum including a list of options and their savings. On the list were: reductions in staff in the police, fire and recreation departments, including laying off three firefighters ($131,000), four police officers ($155,000) and one recreation department staff member ($21,000) with savings of $307,000 per year; a furlough day per employee each week in all departments with an estimated $480,000 savings (but does not provide enough man hours to keep the water and police department operational); a furlough day for each employee per pay period (15 days) with savings of $240,000 and various scenarios with employees paying increased percentages of health care costs; layoffs of non-unionized employees, including two from the wastewater treatment plant ($53,000), one from the water treatment plant ($26,000) and one from maintenance ($26,000), with various options for employees covering a higher percentage of health care costs; and money that can be saved by the city by changing the ordinance that allows income reciprocity credit with other cities with $270,000 in gains per year.
Council will meet at 7 p.m. Monday in council chambers and hear the third reading of the proposed increase to income tax.