Council calls for budget deficit plan

By DANIEL HERATY
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS – In anticipation of a budget deficit expected to be about $1 million, Councilwoman Janet Badalow said during the regular meeting June 28 that a budget deficit plan needs to be in place by the end of July.

She said that if Mayor Daniel Paletko couldn’t provide a plan in that time frame, the job should be contracted out.

The budget, set at $36 million for the 2011 to 2012 fiscal year, went into effect July 1.

Paletko said that any plan would have to come back to the council for approval, and added that it would be difficult to enact because the deficit would be hard to predict. He said that he is still not confi-dent that property values have hit bottom, and that the city relies on those values, which have dropped 25 percent since 2009.

“We won’t know within 30 days what exactly is the number we will need,” Paletko said. “The state wants a number, not an estimate from the city manager or mayor in regards to what the number is.”

Councilwoman Margaret Van Houten agreed with Badalow that even though the number is still being estimated, discussions should begin in order to ensure that any potential changes could be dealt with.

“If the deficit is a little less or a little more than ($1 million), then we adjust the deficit plan we’re already working on,” she said. “But I think we need to start working sooner than later on figuring it out.”

City Comptroller Vincent Macari said the plan potentially could wait until the end of the year to be filed. He said that the city technically has until 90 days after an annual internal audit is completed to file the plan.

“In practice,” he said, “It’s usually done after the audit’s done. So we see no problem filing in December when the audit goes to the state. The deficit reduction plan would go with it.”

Badalow said that even though there is a grace period, she wants to have a budget deficit plan in place so the city is better prepared financially.

(Daniel Heraty can be reached at dheraty@bewickpublications.com.)