Finances a major concern for city

SANDUSKY The city of Sandusky has been issued a financial reality check. At Monday's
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

The city of Sandusky has been issued a financial reality check.

At Monday's City Commission meeting, a commission appointed finance committee provided a mid-year update on the city's general fund.

"We are looking at a very bleak picture," Interim City Manager Don Miears said.

Overall, the general fund revenues are up $182,399, which is 2.6 percent higher than revenues were at this time last year. To breakdown that over-arching figure, property taxes are up 6.7 percent, admission taxes are down 5.4 percent, hotel/motel taxes are down 4.2 percent, estate taxes are down about 15 percent and income tax is also down slightly.

Jim Ruthsatz, chairman of the finance committee, said the income tax numbers from July will provide a better comparison between years.

"The best way to summarize where we're at so far for 2007 is 'cautiously optimistic'," said Al Nickles, vice-chairman of the committee.

According to the 2007 projection, the city will receive $222,000 more than expected from a combination of estate tax receipts and interest receipts. But that estimate is far from being money in the bank.

"The Ohio estate tax is no guarantee for us," Nickles said.

In presentation notes, Nickles listed three elements that will influence the financial situation; the status of the Delphi and ACH plants, along with the estate tax and the Firelands Regional Medical Center construction project.

"What's extremely troubling to me is that our revenues are essentially flat to down," Commissioner Dennis Murray Jr. said.

"It's not a rosy picture," Nickles said. "We are starting to burn through cash."

Ex-officio Mayor Dan Kaman also expressed concern over the projections, saying that a $3 million cash balance has been emphasized especially to maintain bond ratings. The 2007 general fund projection is $3.2 million, with the 2008 projection at 3.1 million.

Finance Director Ed Widman said the projected numbers aren't the worst the city has ever faced, and they are still only projections.

The comprehensive annual financial report can be found on the city of Sandusky's Web site at www.ci.sandusky.oh.us.

"You can take a look and see how we're doing," said Don Miears, City Manager.