Last updated: January 22. 2014 9:49PM - 676 Views
By - lmihm@civitasmedia.com

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LIMA — Departmental requests for the city of Lima’s 2014 budget continued with the Lima City Council Finance Committee Wednesday and carried on well into the night hours.

The committee heard the budget proposals from the utilities department, the court judges, the clerk of courts, the law director’s office, the police department, civil service, the auditor and and city economic and community development. It was the second night of a three-night process as the committee goes of the budget line for line before making its suggestions to the full council.

The Lima Police Department proposed an $8.16 million budget that will include the hiring of five new police officers over the course of 2014. The hires had been held off to the economic downturn. Police Chief Kevin Martin said the police department was able to avoid a big jump in its proposed budget because of the new officers being hired at entry level pay.

Martin said Lima schools also picked up 25 percent of the salary of a school resource officer that was hired as full time, which also helped negate some of the extra costs.

Lima Clerk of Court Jim Link asked for $1.2 million in their budget, which represented an approximate 11 percent jump. Much of the higher budget was contributed to a recent Ohio Supreme Court ruling that dictated courts could only charge court costs per case rather than by charge. Prior to the decision the court had charged costs on each charge.

“We are about 40 percent self funded and about 60 percent taxpayer funded,” Link said. “So obviously, that decision would have a big effect on our funds.”

Utility Director Gary Sheely proposed a budget that had a modest two percent increase from 2013.

Sheely said that much of small increase was due to 30-year debts on the reservoir project, completed in 2011 at $30 million, and installation of the carbon filtration process into the drinking water system, which was completed in 2012 as a $15 million project. The changes were mandated by the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Judge William Lauber proposed a budget for the Lima Municipal Court judges that had a slight increase of about $1,250 and said there were some minor adjustments needed to make up lost funding. He reported to the committee that the salary portion of the budget increased by $60,000 due to the hiring of a full time assistant. He said the position was originally paid for out of the special projects fund, but that some unexpected maintenance work led to the need of a slightly larger chunk of the budget.

“For 40-some years we had not made any changes other than cosmetics to the courthouse,” Lauber said. We had to make some changes so it looked like a courthouse and not a falling down building. We also had to make some technological changes.”

Total renovation work at the courthouse was about $400,000, Lauber said, which eliminated the possibility of paying for the assistant position out of the special projects fund

Lauber said court staff also received a two percent raise, and that as many as five people were eligible for retirement, which could add to the expenses.

“I currently can’t say we will need to spend that money,” Lauber said, “but we have as many as five people that have 30 or more years in. So we have to have that in the budget.”

He said fringe and health benefits were also up slightly and that cost for visiting judges was running at about $8,000 a month while Judge Rickard Workman was out due to health reasons.

City law director Tony Geiger proposed an $868,000 budget that was virtually identical to 2013. Geiger said the one big difference in the 2014 budget was a short increase in labor costs.

“We will be operating on the same expenses,” Geiger said. However, the administration made a decision to not pay one position with CDBG funds. So those funds will instead come out of the general fund.”

Geiger also requested for the adding of an employee on the law director office staff.

Economic and Community Development Director Amy Odum asked for a $243,000 budget, an approximate eight percent increase from 2013. She requested that a vehicle code enforcement officer be added to the staff. Odum said budget requests could change for all departments depending on the availability of funding and grants.

“If we continue to receive funding and grants, we will be okay,” she said. “If not, general funds will be asked to fill those holes.”

Civil Service Board Secretary Andrew King proposed a $55,000 budget, identical to 2013.

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