Boardman officials ponder cuts to counter projected ’10 shortfall

By Denise Dick

The projected revenue for 2010 is $15.8 million, down from $16.1 million this year.

BOARDMAN — With projected 2010 revenue more than $2 million less than projected costs, trustees don’t have a lot of options.

“When we did layoffs before, this board said it didn’t want to do that again,” said Administrator Jason Loree at a meeting this week.

But they have to do something to cut costs, he said.

“We’re going to have to do layoffs, put another levy on, do nothing or figure out a new way to operate,” Loree said. “Those are our options.”

William Leicht, township fiscal officer, said the projected 2009 revenue is $16.1 million.

“I think we’re going to see less collection” for 2010, he said. “We could lose easily around $400,000 in real-estate taxes.”

Combined with other reductions through tax changes and the economic downturn, the revenue could be as much as $800,000 less than 2009’s.

Officials pegged $15.8 million as the revenue number to plan for in 2010.

Projected costs, though, are about $18.5 million.

“I don’t know how you cut almost $3 million from this budget,” said Larry Moliterno, trustees chairman.

Leicht said the township needs to conserve as much as possible this year. The township appropriated about $17 million for 2009, but by taking a loan, using the remaining carryover and borrowing from its restricted funds, the township will meet its expenses this year, Leicht predicts.

While voters last November passed a 2.2-mil police-and-fire levy expected to generate about $2 million annually, it hasn’t garnered the money anticipated because of the troubled economy, officials said.

Reducing overtime is a possibility to trim costs, the fiscal officer said.

“It may require the closing of a fire station,” he said.

After layoffs in early 2008, the township closed one of its three fire stations. A second station closed periodically after the layoffs.

All three stations have remained open since the November levy passage and some of the laid-off firefighters returned to work.

The township formerly relied on its carryover, accumulated through inheritance tax, to fill the gap between revenues and expenses, but that money is gone. Inheritance tax comes from taxes on the estates of township residents who die.

This year for the first time, the township borrowed $3 million to get through the first quarter of the year. That loan has been repaid, but Leicht expects to need another loan to get through the first quarter of 2010.

As part of a plan enacted last year, trustees are working to wean the township off of its reliance on inheritance dollars to fund operations. They want to use that money for capital projects instead.

Something needs to be done soon to prepare for next year, Moliterno said.

“We need an action plan,” he said.

He suggested each trustee study budget documents and develop ideas to deal with the money problems. The ideas are to be relayed to either Loree or Leicht, Moliterno said.