LIMA — Lima City Council members approved temporary appropriations through the early part of the year in anticipation of the 2014 budget, which will be approved later on in 2014.
Mayor David Berger’s 2014 budget estimate provided good news for both the Police and Fire departments. Berger said the budget would allow for the retention of six jobs paid for by grants with general fund resources. The grants began being phased out in 2013, but Berger said in his estimate that money is still available to keep the positions as well as the hiring of a yet to be determined number of police officers, which was delayed in 2013. The Fire Department will also hire more after new hires were delayed in 2013.
Berger said the total expenditure budget for 2014 was $28.8 million with revenues expected at $27.9 million. Berger said the city is expecting to underspend by about 5 percent in 2013. The city’s cash balance at the end of 2013 is expected to be about $8 million, which is 30 percent of expected expenditures. Berger noted that percent was double the U.S. average of 15 percent.
Berger said municipalities continue to see cuts in state and federal funds, but that Lima has been proactive and conservative with its spending and that it was important that officials stay on that track. He said a continuing economic recovery at the national, state and local levels could result in revenues being higher than expected.
Two council members and another longtime city employee were sent off with good tidings during the meeting.
Seventh Ward Councilwoman Paige Townsend, First Ward Councilman Kurt Neeper, and city Auditor Gene Reaman all attended their last council meetings as city officials on Monday.
Townsend thanked neighborhood association members, fellow councilors, other city officials and friends and family members as she enters into retirement.
“The support never waivered,” Townsend said. She said she wished the council the best of luck and said she hoped they would continue to work together and compromise.
Neeper is stepping down to run for the Ohio House of Representatives, and said he learned much while on the council.
“Its been an educational experience and it was a great opportunity to serve,” Neeper said.
Second Ward Councilman Sam McClain said the city was “losing two great voices.”
The council president thanked Reaman for his work.
“We had nearly flawless audits,” John Nixon said. “It is a testament to your work ethic.”
Council also passed a resolution memorializing the late Larry Reed Skelly during the meeting and presented a copy of the resolution to his wife Barbara and his son Mark.
Skelly was a 1955 graduate of South High School and was a captain on the football team. He worked for 41 years with Buckeye Pipeline Co. and retired in 1996 as manager of Everglades Pipeline Co. However, he was most noticed for his involvement within the community and the Boulevard Neighborhood Association. Skelly died Oct. 13.
“I was saddened by Larry’s death,” Councilman Tom Tebben said. “He was one of those people that made you happy to be a council member. He made the community a better place just by being himself.”
Skelly’s wife thanked the council and said her husband would be very thankful for the honor.