LIMA — Third Ward Councilman Jesse Lowe has long sought to improve security at the city building. As members of Lima council’s finance committee begin the annual march through the administration’s budget proposal, it appears the notion of enhancing security is gaining traction.
On Tuesday, Lowe submitted a series of scenarios to the finance committee for how the city can address security by adding a mix of full- and part-time employees.
“I think it’s very crucial that we do implement this and get some security down here, not only for the CEO of the city but for the hard workers that work in the city building. I think we need to create an atmosphere where they feel safe,” Lowe said. “Times are hard; people do crazy things. We’ve seen that on the national news, and we’ve seen some things happen here locally. I ask that you seriously consider my proposal this evening.”
Fourth Ward Councilman TomTebben, chairman of the finance committee, said he’s glad the issue is getting a thorough review.
“In the budget hearing process, we may not come out of that with the solution, but I appreciate this input. I think that personally I want to before we get done with these meetings and make a request of the administration to come back with a range of proposals also,” Tebben said. “I’ve really thought about it, and we have range of possibilities in front of us from doing nothing to setting ourselves up much like the county. I’d like to understand what the costs of each one of those different programs would be.”
One advantage for city councilors as they consider enhancing security at the municipal center is the city budget. Finance Director Steve Cleaves said despite the recession, which significantly reduced the cash balance of other municipalities, the city fared well.
Last year, the city realized more than $2.3 million in higher revenues from the sale of the former Lima Locomotive Works site and higher than anticipated income tax and estate tax collections, Cleaves said. In addition, city expenditures were down $1.3 million from what was anticipated, he said.
“We believe we have sufficient funds to embark in capital purchase replacement programs. We’ve squeezed our capital program extensively over the past 10 years, shoring up the city’s finances,” Cleaves said. “It’s been a long, hard road at times, but we’re now seeing the benefits of that. We hope going forward we’ll be able to maintain what is a best practice, about a 20 percent cash balance, and still be able to purchase between $2 million to $2.5 million worth of capital replacements and improvements over the next three-year period.”