GALION — With just days to spare, Galion City Council passed it’s 2020 budget. The timing is pretty normal, they rarely get passed very far ahead of time. There was however a lot of debate last Monday evening before it was passed, and one member of council, Gail Baldinger, did not vote to approve the 2020 budget.
It passed by a 6-1 margin.
Projected expenses for 2020 are $35,150,952. The projected budget for 2019 was $35,065,562. Still, projected revenue for the city in 2020 is more than $2 million less than the projected spending.
“I will not support a budget with a shortfall like that,” said long-time council member Gail Baldinger. “There is too much in that budget that is unfunded. I don’t agree with that.”
He also noted that numbers in the proposed budget, specifically numbers having to do with funding of the Galion Health Department had not been corrected, as was asked during a previous meeting.
Council members agreed to amend the budget to fix the health department issue, but a discussion about the budget shortfall continued for more than 20 minutes.
Mayor Tom O’Leary insisted that recent Galion budgets have been approved with shortfalls, and that the city has been successful in having the budget issues corrected by the end of the year. He was confident that would be the case this year, too.
Outgoing council member Bill Comerford — who did not run for re-election — agreed with O’Leary’s reasoning, and was confident that by the end of 2020, the budget would be balanced.
After the sometimes-heated discussion, the budget was passed by a 6-1 vote, with Baldinger the only ‘no’ vote.
That discussion included comments that rate increases in Galion’s water and sewer rate would likely be coming sometime in the future, to fend off a negative balance in that fund. That issued was broached in an earlier budget discussion and it was agreed that “the city will continue to review the Power Cost Adjustment in February and August as required by ordinance. A combined $124,000 in capital improvements was budgeted for in the Water and Sewer Funds for required building maintenance and improvements at the Water Treatment Plant. City officials will monitor the revenues over expenses in these two funds next year.”
The budget assumes a 2.5 percent increase in income tax revenues this year.
Council also approved changes to the makeup of the Galion Design Review Board. The terms of Dan Brown, Richard Byrom and Craig Clinger will expired at the end of this year. Brown and Byrom said they’d like to be reappointed. Clark, was a member of the board by virtue of her city council seat, said she would like to continue to serve. Council approved the appoints of Brown, Byrom and Clerk to serve for three years, until Dec. 31, 2022.
Monday’s meeting was the final meeting for council members Comerford and Shirley Clark, who also did not run for re-election. A reception was held for the two after the meeting ended.
Kenneth Bodkins Sr. and Richard Ivy will join Galion City Council next year, joining current members Baldinger, Dr. Thomas Fellner, Mark Triplett, Mike Richart and Tammy Siclair-Erlsten. They will take their oaths of office during a short program Dec. 30 at 5 p.m. in council chambers at the Galion Municipal Building. Crawford County Municipal Court Judge Shane Leuthold will swear them in.