The following are a few suggestions for budget cuts until the city stabilizes the budget:
• Renegotiate the union contract to refund the raises with salaried personnel included. The city cannot promise raises over three years only to find out it is coming up short on funds. All raises should be frozen until the city’s financial outlook improves. Raises could be given out at the end of the year if money is available, sort of like a bonus which is not committed year after year.
• Twenty-five percent increase in health insurance means that the public sector needs to come in line with the private sector because the health insurance costs will only get worse. The employees need to pick up higher deductibles, co-payments, and premiums. The taxpayers cannot keep absorbing such costs when the taxpayers are not getting the same insurance deals.
• Temporarily shut down the city marina. It is irresponsible for the city to keep the marina open while bleeding huge amounts of red ink while cutting services and employees.
• The city needs to prioritize its projects putting a freeze on future projects until money and resources are available. The city shouldn’t allow special interest groups to dictate what needs to be done rather than what the city can truly afford.
• Since the consultant for the revolving loan fund is retiring in March, it would be a good time to phase out the revolving loan banking business. The city would save $35,000 when the consultant retires. Our treasurer should be able to monitor any existing loans until expiration.
• The city could lessen the burden of cuts when the cuts could be shared with every department instead of concentrating on one or two departments. Take the shortage percentage and divide it by the various departments to lessen the damage.
• The city can spend up to $10,000 without authorization from the commissioners. The commissioners need to closely monitor money spent under $10,000 and even take a look at setting the amount (by Charter) back down to $5,000 so the expenditures don’t get out of hand.
• Expenditures need to be certified properly at the time of legislation passage so commissioners are assured the money is in the various accounts before passing legislation for the project. It doesn’t make sense to pass legislation and then scramble looking for funds to draw down from to cover the legislation.
• Temporary suspending the $30,000 a year to ECEDC or adjusting the amount down to a minimal payment. The city and county donates three times more than other government entities. The city never inked a contract with ECEDC, so the city can drop the ECEDC expenditure at any time.
It is amazing how the city can save money if it only took a closer look at the expenditures instead of always cutting employees and services. The consequences could be great if the city doesn’t apply some business instincts to its decisions. Sandusky has got to stop being the bank of Sandusky where people and entities think they can request withdrawals of money from the city anytime and the city is going to cover the expense.