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02-04-03: Celina councilors choose major projects
The Daily Standard
    Faced with near-deficit amounts in several funds, Celina City Council members cautiously selected major projects and purchases for 2003.
    The council's finance committee met numerous times since late December to work on setting the 2003 spending appropriation, each time reconsidering large expenditures.
    The appropriation ordinance has passed the first of three readings required before enactment, and council members are still considering individual line items.
    So far, the following items have been included in the budget:
    - $58,000 for one new dump truck in the street maintenance fund, reduced from two dump trucks.
    - $115,000 to resurface streets, which was pulled from the three funds that support streets < the street maintenance, permissive tax and basic services funds.
    - $30,000 for a new leaf machine for basic services.
    - $21,000 for a new small pickup truck for the utility meter readers (a current pickup will be sent to wastewater).
    - $21,000 for a van or other large capacity vehicle for the engineering department.
    - $30,000 for a full-size pickup in water distribution.
    - In the water fund, $270,000 was dedicated for the Environmental Protection Agency-mandated pilot testing, engineering studies, well field investigation and ozone testing.
    - $20,000 to cover a 30 percent increase in general insurance costs.
    - $5,000 for costs associated with tearing down a train depot building recently acquired adjacent to the utilities building.
    - $5,000 for costs associated with repairing the boat house at Mercelina Landing.
    - $60,000 to hold a bulk pick-up trash day. The trash days were reduced from two to one, but the budget amount remained unchanged.
    The budget also removes:
    - $364,000 from the wastewater budget. Those funds were set for a new sewer cleaning machine at $150,000, two new staff members at $99,000 and $115,000 for a laboratory extension at the plant.
    - $17,000 from the community development budget. The funds were set for creating a design standards document that would guide future development on design criteria for new buildings.
    - $26,000 from the engineering budget. The funds were to hire a property maintenance law enforcement official. Council member Rick Bachelor recently said the council doesn't have "enough of a handle on the problem to throw another body at it."
    In the $12 million electric fund, $938,000 was appropriated for major
improvements, including:
    - $250,000 for substation materials, poles and transformer upgrades.
    - $45,000 for a new pickup truck.
    - $563,000 for a new electric building.
    "This is electric, this is a totally different animal," Bachelor has
said of the large availability of funds in the electric fund.
    Safety Service Director Mike Sovinski said the electric department will
need to add a new ladder truck to the department's equipment, because
current vehicles won't be able to reach high transmission lines now being
installed. The current parking space for the electric department's vehicles
is next to the utilities building. A larger truck will not fit in that building.
    Celina Auditor Pat Smith revised the city's general fund income forecast on Monday, setting it at $4.9 million in 2003, $350,000 more than appropriations. Council member Denny Smith noted in a recent meeting that with small carry-over balances and the knowledge that appropriations are never fully spent, the city's budget will balance through the year.
    Pat Smith also said that in 2004 the difference in income and the budget could be more than $500,000, without the state removing the kilowatt-hour tax. In that case, the deficit could reach $1 million or higher, if the state goes ahead with plans to cut local government funds.
    "It won't be pretty," Pat Smith said.


Phone: (419)586-2371,   Fax: (419)586-6271
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P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822