YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - As budget hearings begin for the city of Youngstown, a fiscal study reveals that the city could experience a projected deficit of $5-million dollars over the next year.
DeMaine Kitchen, who serves as the Mayor's Chief of staff, told Youngstown's Finance Committee that the city has worked to close the gap on the deficit problem this year, but now they're focused on how to stay fiscally solvent moving forward.
Kitchen says the problem is that income tax receipts are down, personnel costs are up, local government funding has been cut by the state, and the construction money from the V&M project has come to an end.
"We were looking at a $5-million dollar deficit this year. But we've been able to close that through some cost saving measures, such as when people retire not replacing those jobs. We had an injection of money from V&M, about $2.8-million dollars from V&M, which was a huge help towards that, but for the most part, controlling our overtime," Kitchen said.
The mayor has instructed department heads to present budgets that reflect cost savings and eliminates overtime where possible.
Kitchen says the city now wants to take a proactive approach to tackle a problem facing a number of communities.
"We're trying to change things structurally and systematically now so we're not kicking the can down the road. If we don't do anything differently and everything remains the same we're going to face that deficit. The goal of the study was to highlight and point out where those deficits are, and begin to take proactive steps now so when that time comes we'll be ok," Kitchen said.
At least 50 city employees over the past year have taken advantage of a buyout or early retirement plan.
Kitchen says Mayor Chuck Sammarone is not running for reelection this year, but he's committed to maintaining fiscal responsibility and accountability throughout the remainder of his term.