The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Jan. 19, 2018

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Van Wert City Council discussed the defeat of the 0.28-percent city income tax increase for the second time, and possible cost-cutting measures needed to offset a projected budget deficit in 2018.

Van Wert Mayor Jerry Mazur talks about the defeat of the 0.28-percent city income tax levy at Monday’s Van Wert City Council meeting. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

Some City Council members were adamant they did not want to have to cut personnel, if at all possible. In fact, Councilman At-Large Jon Tomlinson said he would rather give up his Council salary, if it would avoid having to lay off city employees.

“Before I would lay anybody off, I would decline my Council salary,” Tomlinson told fellow Council members. Several other Council members also seemed to agree with Tomlinson, although nothing specific was put in place.

City Auditor Martha Balyeat also told City Council members that using two-thirds of the 0.22-percent Safety Capital Income Tax would likely cover the projected budget shortfall for 2018, although she cautioned that taking no other cost-cutting measures would leave the city with essentially no reserve fund in 2019.

“The question is, is that what you want to do, and have no reserve?” Balyeat noted.

Council members discussed the 2018 temporary budget prior to Monday night’s regular City Council meeting, with some cuts proposed for the budget, chiefly in the area of training and education expenditures. Mayor Jerry Mazur and Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming will discuss possible cuts with department heads prior to passage of the temporary budget.

Council members unanimously voted to prepare legislation for the temporary budget later in the meeting.

Council President Pete Weir also noted on Monday that the Van Wert City Planning Commission had received a request from B.A. Karst to rezone property at 956 S. Washington St. from R-2 (residential) to B-3 (commercial).

During his report, Mayor Mazur thanked City Council members for participating on the 0.28-percent income tax levy.

“I think we did the best we could, and the voters said no,” the mayor noted. “I don’t take that as a personal defeat, I take that as a personal advice on let’s do something different.”

Unfortunately, one consequence of the failure of the 0.28-percent income tax increase occurred Monday, when City Council voted to rescind legislation that would have applied an additional 25-percent income tax credit for city residents who work outside the city. Currently, those taxpayers receive a 25-percent credit, but the rescinded legislation would have increased that to 50 percent, starting in January 2018.

The additional tax credit was contingent on passage of the 0.28-percent income tax increase.

The mayor also reiterated that he misspoke on doing away with assist EMS calls, noting that the only way to do so would be to subcontract EMS runs to a private ambulance company.

Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming noted during his report that the Woodland Avenue project is “99 percent complete”, while the Fox-Westwood intersection is in the clean-up stage at this point. Fleming also noted that leaf pick-up has begun for the city.

Balyeat did have some good news during her report, noting that the city General Fund is approximately $344,000 ahead of last year, with an increase in income tax of $126,000. However, income tax increases are pretty much in line with projections that also show a budget deficit in 2018.

The auditor also noted that the city has seen nearly $20,000 in revenues from EMS charges. Balyeat said the city has collected approximately $320,000 than it has spent so far this year.

Legislatively, Council introduced a measure to expand the downtown development district from Central Avenue to Crawford Street. The new district boundary would now include Wassenberg Art Center and Wild Willy’s Pizza.

An ordinance that would make a supplemental appropriation to Fund 215 was approved on third and final reading. The appropriation would provide $3,000 to Main Street Van Wert to assist with the cost of designating the downtown a historical district.

The next meeting of Van Wert City Council will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday, November 27, in Council Chambers on the second floor of the Municipal Building, 515 E. Main St.

POSTED: 11/14/17 at 9:16 am. FILED UNDER: News