City of Sandusky budget still facing shortfall for 2014

Budget projections show Sandusky, by early next year, having about a $1 million deficit in the $16 million 2014 budget.
Andy Ouriel
Dec 2, 2013
The budget funds many services, including police and fire operations. About 75 percent of the city’s overall budget goes toward employee salaries and other wages and benefits.

The fire department projects a $484,000 shortfall in 2014.

Officials previously said the amount was $430,000. But if commissioners approve a plan — centered on shifting funds from the EMS account to cover salaries for six full-time firefighters — the city would only need to find $500,000 to balance next year’s budget.

 
The shortfall occurred after:
• $400,000 was cut in estate tax revenue from what the city previously received. Ohio Gov. John Kasich phased out the estate tax, which had been a major income source for municipal governments.
• $100,000 was cut in local government funds Local government funds, or money the state provides for municipal operations, was also reduced.
 
If the EMS account transfer is approved, city officials will still need to find $500,000 by either making cuts — such as layoffs — or raising revenues somehow before March, when commissioners vote on a budget.
 
“I don’t know how we are going to make up that difference,” Sandusky finance director Hank Solowiej said.

Comments

Factitious

Police and fire are staffed at a level the city can't afford. Everything else has been cut to the bone and beyond.

JERRY from SANDUSKY

It's time upper management give up some of that money that they don't deserve way overpaid and I'm not kidding

Fireside

buy a computer program that shows busy times for police and fire, staff accordingly. Police and fire should BOTH be on 8 hour shifts. Use North Central EMS for west end if actually needed per national standards for response times. If response times are within national standards, live with one station. Teach police to be first responder until EMS arrive. Fire Dept to be code enforcement. Time for FOP and Fire union to look at reduced time off,(vacation, sick, Kelley, personal etc.), get in line with private sector. Look into regional fire dept. Just ideas to think about, not asking for your first born......

T. A. Schwanger

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Link to Sandusky Fire Department 2012 Yearly Report

www.ci.sandusky.oh.us/fire/annua...

Darkhorse

Let's get away from it-has-always-been-done-this-way mentality and start thinking outside the box on how to save money.

OnlyfoolsAssume

Having police and fire on 8 hour shifts would require more staffing, therefore that would increase the money paid out. The city income tax has been 1% ever since it was instated fourty some odd years ago. That needs to change to adapt with the times. Also I don't know about fire but I would prefer to keep the police department staffed. Being a resident of the city it's not safe to go out after dark half the time as it is now.

Paul E. Ricci

First and foremost, thank you for your comments and concerns. I will try and be brief but address your thoughts. The Sandusky Fire Department has advanced computer technologies and programming that allow us to capture and analyze data regarding the number, type and location of calls. We use this data to assist us in our operational planning. Since 2002, this data provides a historical perspective on our service. We can track calls by hour of the day, day of the week, month of the year and year to year comparisons. This data tells us that call volume does not fluctuate much between the hour of the day or by day of the week. We see an approximately 28% in call volume between May and September. (330 calls to 425 calls). 80% of all calls are responses to residential property. Call volume by District is consistent over the last ten years. 64% in District 1 (downtown or core), 20% in District 3 (Cedar Point or East) and 16% in District 7 or west. There is some variation but not usually more than 1-3%. Our emergency call volume has increased nearly 40% in the last ten years. Fire personnel, however, do much more than respond to emergency calls. Our non-emergency activity makes up 77% of what we do, this includes the maintenance of stations, equipment and vehicles, training, code enforcement, company inspections, public education and community risk reduction to name a few. "Thinking outside the box" is what we do. A fire service that was once driven by fire suppression and fire prevention has grown and taken on many more tasks, at the same time with a reduction in staff and operating budget. We have moved from a traditional approach to fire operations to a more dual purpose approach by utilizing personnel more efficiently. The use of "jump companies" and cross training personnel in fire, ems and rescue disciplines expands our ability to be more service oriented and purposeful. Shift personnel currently work a 51 hr. work week with 24 hour shifts. With call volumes averaging 15-20 calls per shift, this schedule provides the best option to provide the best service. Changing to an 8 hour shift (40 hr. work week) will require an increase in the number of personnel by a factor of 22% to maintain current service levels and staffing, (48 personnel vs. 58)with an associated increase in costs. We have investigated and been successful with regional approaches. We have expanded mutual and automatic aid, transitioned into regional dispatching and continue to look for ways to cut costs while providing the highest levels of safety for our personnel. There is much that has been done and there is still more to do. I invite you to visit me at 600 West Market Street or call 419-627-5822 to gain additional insight into how the fire service has progressed over the last 15 years. Thank you for your comments and concerns. Respectfully, Paul E. Ricci - Fire Chief.

Fireside

Thanks Chief. The 77% time jumps out at me. I believe in keeping a well staffed and qualified central station. What about North Central sub-contracting east in the summer and west year round for ems only? Good luck with this issue, seems it comes around every 3 years in all cities.

J. Hartman

Darkhorse, I'll be nice and stay with your screen name, one of the few times I've agreed with you and damn glad to read you want outside the box thinking. That being said, none of us have the magic pill, but it is my belief that if more "outside of the box" ideas are thrown out there, one just might trigger some brilliance from someone or be the answer all in itself. I don't have that magic pill or I would honestly share so at least this debate could be put to rest. As I have stated in the past, cutting corners with the fire department and police department are not the correct answers. Fireside made some valid points, but I wouldn't be in favor of cutting any time off they have earned. SPD is understaffed as it is and it's a very stressful position whether first year on the beat or a twenty year veteran. When you deal with other people's problems on a daily basis, not all problems are of the criminal activity by the way, mentally and physically it takes a toll. A recharged/re-energized officer will be much more effective. An 8 hour work day possibly might be an option as well as Fireside stated. Back to the main concern and how to make up for the monies the city needs to operate with success. While I don't possess the direct answer, I do believe that we can find a way to make it happen, but not by cutting any of our emergency services. A lot of bright minds in our community and together I believe an answer can be found. So, whether I have agreed or disagreed with you in the past or you could care less for any of my comments, I encourage all to keep throwing ideas out there. Like anything else it's a numbers game. P.S. OnlyFoolsAssume, I'm sorry you feel unsafe to travel outside of your protective walls at night. Despite the actions of a few people, Sandusky is a safe environment at all hours. Don't let one or two events dictate where and when you go places. Again, keep throwing out any suggestions!