Warren’s budget crisis worsens

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6a016300f919ba970d016300fe171f970dThe Warren city General Fund budget situation continues to deteriorate. We finished the year with an unencumbered balance that was $397,000 in deficit. This is the forth straight year Mayor Franklin has operated the General Fund budget at a deficit. His four year deficit total is approximately $1.8 million.

The first three year’s deficits were paid for by drawing down a surplus that was accumulated during Mayor Angelo’s term in office. We started 2015 with only $48,000 remaining from that surplus, so we are now just underwater — and up the creek, without a paddle or a plan.

The situation is actually worse, because Warren never paid its 2014 bill to Trumbull County of $450,000 for the city’s share of operating the county jail. Therefore we really operated at an $850,000 shortfall. We now owe TC $900,000 (for ’14 and now ’16), but only half of that amount is in the Mayor’s 2016 budget, recently passed by City Council.

As I have said before, the Warren city budget is designed to confuse all but a handful of insiders, but a deeper examination of the budget document suggests the problem is getting worse quickly.  This should have come to a head last year, but the city transferred $950,000 from the hospitalization fund into the General Fund late in the year, which allowed them to skate past the election. It may still take a few months to play out but eventually the bill has to be paid.

Stay tuned.

Posted Thursday, January 21st, 2016 under Budget.

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