City discusses budget concerns

By Dean Wright -

GALLIPOLIS — Gallipolis City Commission discussed budget concerns during its Tuesday meeting in the Gallipolis Municipal Building.

City Auditor and Clerk Annette Landers said a draft of the 2020 city budget was available for commissioners to review as part of their paperwork. City department heads have been making preliminary budgets and requests for the city’s coming budgetary year. Landers said that she and City Manager Ted Lozier worked to slim around $220,000 out of department requests to fit within the overall general fund proposal before it is approved by commissioners.

“We were about … $220,000 in the red in general fund when we first started with the requests that were made as they were made,” said Landers. “We worked with the department heads and got that down to where now we’re just a sliver in the black. It’s not good news and it’s something we’re definitely going to have to keep an eye on because, as I see it, our carryover balance is going down, down, down and is not sustainable. And the problem with that is when you make these little cuts here and there, when you’re cutting some $200,000 out of the general fund the size of ours that ends up taking care of an awful lot of what would have been carryover in the past because you will expend fully the amounts that are appropriated for certain (funding lines).”

Landers said she felt this was a “wake up call” and that the city needed to do something to increase its funding because the city’s financial health was not looking to be sustainable.

“I think next year is going to be the year where it’s going to go belly up because there is going to be an increase in medical insurance and that’s going to kill us. At that point, I don’t think we can sustain (the budget) so we’ve got to do something,” said Landers.

Commissioners said they may potentially return to discussion of annexation efforts in order to address the budget concerns at a coming work session on Feb. 25.

City officials said their concern for a tight budget this year in part stemmed from some irregular reasons. One of those was an extra pay period, increases in medical insurance and a bi-annual audit.

Commissioners in the past have said cuts in state funding to local government have also hampered rural municipalities and county governments’ ability to function. Gallipolis officials have been integrating employee positions over the last few years to compensate among other efforts to minimize financial burdens.

Dean Wright is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing and can be reached at 740-446-2342. © 2020 Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.

By Dean Wright