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Commissioners plan to vote

Andy Ouriel • Feb 19, 2014 at 3:40 PM

Sandusky officials pieced together a complicated budget puzzle to erase a $1.1 million shortfall.

City commissioners expect to vote on the 2014 everyday operating budget, totaling $16.3 million, on Monday.

Want to go?

•WHAT: Public hearing and scheduled vote on Sandusky’s 2014 everyday operating budget.

•WHERE: City Hall, 222 Meigs St., Sandusky

•WHEN: 5 p.m. Monday

Municipal governments, such as Sandusky, must approve a balanced budget, where income levels either match or exceed expenses, by March each year.

Through data obtained via public records requests and interviews, here’s how officials plan to negate the shortfall, which consists of four layoffs.

Expense cuts

•$136,000: Laying off four fulltime firefighters. The layoffs should occur by May, tentatively reducing full-time fire department staffing levels from 53 to 49.

•$72,500: Police department reductions, which doesn’t include staffing cuts.

•$65,000: Letting a private company fund and operate two city-based recycling centers.

•$50,000: Other cuts in fire department, with firefighters obtaining less training and overtime along with forgoing taxpayer-funded physicals.

•$44,300: Municipal court reductions, which doesn’t include staffing cuts.

•$20,000: Reduce amount parks and recreation department receives.

•$20,000: Reduce amount spent on local economic development.

Total expenses cut: $407,800

Income additions

•$250,000: Taking this additional amount from a fire and equipment fund, subsidized mostly through ambulance billing. In past years, the city took $150,000 annually from this account. In 2014, $400,000 will be taken, a $250,000 increase.

•$186,400: Amount taken from city budget’s surplus, or carryover, account. The account, totaling $4.2 million today, must be around 25 percent of the city’s total budget. A robust savings account helps the city obtain lower interest rates for construction projects and to bail it out of any finance-zapping emergencies.

•$176,000: Extra money from the federal government for fire employment. Three years ago, the fire department obtained a $1 million federal grant to cover salaries for six full-time firefighters. The grant expired in December, however, forcing fire commanders to implement layoffs. But local fire commanders still banked $176,000 without spending the funds. The federal government allowed city officials to keep this money for salaries, which should last until May.

•$86,400: Additional amount of local government funds from state coffers that city officials recently realized the city will receive this year.

Total income added: $698,800

Total net savings: $1.1 million

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