Last updated: August 23. 2013 11:01AM - 122 Views

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LIMA — The city’s General Fund is strong post-recession, Finance Director Steve Cleaves said Monday.

City Council’s Finance Committee heard a first-quarter budget review from Cleaves, who said Lima finally is strong enough financially to catch up on a long list of capital needs, from fire trucks and police cars to computers and council chamber cameras for GTV 2 programming.

General Fund spending is 2.5 percent under budget while revenues are on target, Cleaves said. The fund’s cash balance has increased to $9.1 million, but that will be reduced by $2 million over the year on capital expenses.

That $9 million equals about 33 percent of the budget; the goal is to keep a reserve of about 20 percent of the General Fund. The average of cities in the National League of Cities right now is about 18 percent. For Lima, that number has been much lower for a long time: In 2003, it was 8 percent. In 2009, it was 13 percent.

“These numbers really show the financial strength of the city right now,” Cleaves said.

After 2012 and this year getting caught up on large capital needs, Cleaves plans for the city to spend about $1 million on those kinds of things.

The city survived the recession through attrition of labor and putting off capital expenses. In 1996, 520 people worked for the city. By 2003, it was down to 420. Today, that number is 364.

Also on Monday, the committee discussed the city’s contracted service policy. Fifth Ward Councilwoman Teresa Adams asked that council get more information from the administration about how that funding is being spent. The administration will provide council a quarterly report about how the money was spent and what kind of staffing or service was provided with each contract.

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