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Finance Committee gathers facts for options PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, October 15, 2013 12:03 AM


Herald Editor

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DELPHOS — The Delphos City Council Finance Committee went on a fact-finding mission for options to replace lost revenue into the city’s coffers Monday.

Finance Committee Vice Chair Jim Knebel ran the meeting. His first question concerned the government DEFA loan payments for the wastewater and water plants and the reservoir.

Auditor Tom Jettinghoff said he had talked with Ohio Water Development Authority several months ago and there was a six-month deferment option but OWDA wanted to see a concerted effort by the city to attempt to do what was necessary to make the payments.

It was also asked if the loans could be refinanced at a more attractive interest rate and Jettinghoff said no, government loans are at a fixed rate and cannot be refinanced. He added that an additional loan with an area bank was at 2 percent and there would not be much savings there.

Safety Service Director Greg Berquist suggested council approve a water and sewer rate increase for one year to show DEFA the city is serious about trying to meet the loan payments.

“It will get us through 2014 and 2015 will look a little better,” he said.

The committee also visited the fire department’s bottom line and asked if there was a way to trim enough with collaboration between the union and administration to avoid the layoff of three firefighters and 30 part-time firefighters.

Platoon Chief and Union President Don Moreo said the union was willing to take a near 7-percent reduction in pay to keep two guys on station per shift and the offering was turned down by the administration. Knebel asked Berquist why the idea wasn’t workable.

“It’s still creating overtime,” Berquist said. “The fire department has a perpetual circle of overtime.”

Knebel asked how much was saved by the recent lay-off announcements. Jettinghoff said with buyouts, unemployment and guaranteed overtime, the move saved little and may even cost more than keeping all the full-time firefighters and part-paid firefighters.

Jettinghoff added that the union’s proposal would work until the end of the year.

Moreo said his department had several proposals that were deemed unacceptable by the administration and he and the fire chief had gone back and trimmed even more and then learned of the layoffs.

“So what you,re saying is,” Councilman Osting began, “We are laying off three firefighters and still have the same problem with overtime and probably won’t save any money.”

Jettinghoff agreed and added that the police layoffs with the guaranteed overtime that fosters will see that account just break even.

Knebel said when the talk of layoffs was first brought up, he was OK with it until he learned about the auxiliary and part-paid layoffs that must accompany them.

“I think we need to find a better option to save money if we can,” he added.

Councilman Mark Clement asked Jettinghoff what his ideas were coming up with the $1.1 million in lost revenues.

“I’m sure you have ideas I just don’t know what they are,” Clement said.

Clement did a quick add with the $400,000 generated by the 1/4-percent income tax (if passed), the $190,00 from furloughs and more than $100,000 if the city insures employees only.

“I’m already at almost $700,000 without laying off a single person,” Clement said. “We can do this. We just need to look at the numbers and the possibilities.”

Police Chief Kyle Fittro also painted a grim picture with three full-time officers.

“I need to know what you want for your citizens,” Fittro said. “There is a real possibility we could have times when there is no officer on duty.”

Councilman Josh Gillespie said he wasn’t comfortable with that option.

“I don’t think we ever want to not have an officer on duty and I think we need two for officer safety,” he said.

Fittro said he would work up numbers for different scenarios and provide them to council.

Council will meet in regular session at 7 p.m. Oct. 21.

Last Updated on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 12:05 AM

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