WARREN – The city ended May with a positive cash balance of $394,842 in its general fund, which funds most of the city’s operation, however, finance committee chairman Eddie Colbert doesn’t want budget watchers to be lured into a false sense of security.
That’s because the general fund has $562,586 in outstanding debts city officials know must be paid, which leaves a negative balance of $167,744, according to a financial report given to members of city council on Monday.
So far, revenue is $10.58 million compared to expenses of $10.50 million, leaving the positive cash balance.
Colbert, D-7th Ward, told the finance committee he is concerned because despite revenue this year appearing to match projections made by city Auditor David Griffing when the 2015 budget was approved, spending is higher than projected.
While the two largest departments in the general fund, the police and fire departments, are on pace to match projections for regular payroll, overtime spending is up.
Through May, regular wages in the police department were $1,402,668, compared to $1,376,323 projected, but overtime, budgeted at $72,945 is already $77,054.
In the fire department, regular wages have cost $1.32 million compared to the $1.45 million projected. Actual overtime spending so far, however, is $47,954 compared to the projected amount of $32,045.
The police department has spent 52 percent of money budgeted for wages and the fire department, 49 percent.
Councilwoman Helen Rucker, D at-large, said their goal is to, if possible, keep the safety service workers employed at these levels.
“You can defend some situations when overtime is used,” Rucker said.
City Treasurer John Homlitas told council members that as of Monday, income tax collections are $700,000 more than was projected. Homlitas, however, said income tax collection amounts vary daily.
Deputy Auditor Nancy Ruggieri said the city has received an estimated $172,000 in inheritance taxes that were not expected to come into this year’s budget.
Rucker said council too often blames itself and the administration for the city’s financial woes, when state government over the last seven to eight year has been cutting funds that had been going to local governments and to local school districts.
“Over the last eight years, Warren, itself, has lost about $1 million in funds from the state,” she said.
Mayor Doug Franklin agreed.
“We can’t just keep losing money coming in and it not affect our ability to provide service,” Franklin said. “We have to keep communicating with our local state representatives.”
The mayor said the administration is working to bring in more revenue by attracting new jobs and watching spending every day.
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