City of Lyndhurst, Ohio Finance Committee
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December 17, 2012: Finance Committee

The Finance Committee will meet on Monday, December 17, 2012 at 6:00 P.M. to further discuss the Tax Credit/Tax Rate issue.
Patrick A. Ward, Chairman
Finance Committee
December 17, 2012: Finance Committee

The Finance Committee met Monday, December 17, 2012 at 6:00 p.m. Present were Council members Frey, LoPresti, Marko, Packard, Schlessel and Ward. Also present were, Mayor Cicero, Finance Director Kovalchik and Chief Carroll. The purpose of the meeting was to continue discussion on the topic of the Income Tax Credit/Income Tax Rate Issue.
Chairman Ward opened the meeting with a description of Committee members' activities since the last Council meeting. As had been stated at that Council meeting of December 3rd Chairman Ward had once again reached out to all members of the Committee, individually, as to their questions or suggestions on potential program cuts to meet all or part of the $1.6 million budget hole the City is facing largely due to state funding cuts and elimination of estate tax. Committee members, who had peppered the Finance Director, Department Heads and the Chairman with questions, volunteered to pair up in order to provide a more focused review of Departmental operations in order to identify the impact of suggested cuts, look at operations to find other services that might be cut and so on.
Mr. Ward complimented those Committee members who had shouldered this important undertaking as well as the Departments that had provided them needed information. The task was to look at things from Council's understanding of the services provided, who would be impacted by any changes to those services and then what cuts to those specific services Council would see acceptable. The review of the services and the clear understanding of the services is the only foundation for any discussion of funding as Council provides the ultimate decision on the both the services to its residents and the funding necessary to provide those services.
Mr. LoPresti had paired with Mr. Schlessel to review Police operations and with Mr. Marko to review Fire. Mr. LoPresti offered that both departments have been operating at minimum staffing levels for some time. Fire has changed uniforms, delayed re-hires, operated willingly below the minimum staffing levels provided by contract, managed overtime, deferred large capital purchases (one year actually at ZERO), reduced education costs by doing more in-house and on-shift, applied for many grants and have looked for a "regional approach" to services. The Police Department has managed with injuries and illness, are down 3 full-time positions, reduced 1 rank (with 1 less lieutenant position to allow for 1additional sergeant position in changes recommended by Council some time ago), have been operating with only 3 members in the Detective Bureau, 1 less school resource officer fewer clerks and so on. Mr. Marko and Mr. Schlesssel added their perspectives to the discussion highlighting some of the impacts that might be suffered with further cuts; delays in critical emergency services, potential loss in revenue from billable services, increased potential for employee risk and injury and the potential inability to respond to residents' needs. The necessary level of response, even to traffic stops, was also discussed as very often it is necessary to have multiple units responding to a stop or to a call.
Mr. Frey and Mr. Packard had reviewed operations in the Service, Building and Finance Departments and noted the reductions in personnel in each. The Building Department operates with 2 inspectors, 1 clerk and the Commissioner to handle all permits, inspections, rental property registrations and renewals, the sidewalk program, grass and nuisance notifications, grant administration as well as the support of the City Planning, Board of Zoning and Architectural Boards among other things. No part-time help has been used for some time. The Finance Department has reduced staff greatly (beginning many years ago) and has all positions multi-tasking to optimize efficiencies. The Service Department has revamped numerous tasks, trimmed personnel and continues to look for operational and cooperative economies. Mr. Packard had spent a great deal of time with Mr. Glady and agreed that things seemed to be running very efficiently.
Mayor Cicero commended the Committee members on their review. He stated that whatever Council decides, the Administration and departments will work with. He identified options that would enable the Administration to absorb the reductions in revenue but indicated those cuts (3 FF/3 PD/ All part-time) would reach deeply into essential services and would put the City into a "reactive" mode from the "responsive" mode our residents are accustomed to. Along with reductions in essential Police and Fire personnel an assessment for garbage service, at about $125 per year, would be required, but it is possible to do. While raising taxes is not what he wants to, do dollars have been stretched almost as far as they can be and replacing the lost revenue is the only way to fund the Lyndhurst we know.
With no further business to discuss the meeting adjourned at 6:45 pm.
Respectfully submitted,
Patrick A. Ward

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