The Van Wert County Courthouse

Thursday, May. 28, 2020

Council talks finances; amends jobs plan

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Van Wert City Council heard some less than positive financial news from City Auditor Martha Balyeat, while also approving an amended measure that provides financial incentives for companies that meet job and payroll creation benchmarks.

Van Wert Mayor Jerry Mazur talks about changes needed to the city’s Job Creation Incentive Program. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

Balyeat noted that General Fund revenues, which fund police and fire and several city offices in the Municipal Building, were just $14,000 more than this time last year. In addition, the city spent $66,000 more than it took in last month, while income tax revenues have also been lower than projected so far this year. The auditor said part of the income tax revenue decline is due to the new Net Profit Tax, but noted that was not as big a factor as she had thought it would be.

Having revenues lag projections is a problem for the General Fund, since pay and benefit increases are built into the budget due to contract agreements. Revenues need to increase so the city can stop using a portion of the 0.22-percent Safety Capital Tax money to pay for police and fire salaries and benefits, and allow that money to be used for its intended purpose: capital purchases such as fire trucks, EMS squad units, police vehicles, and other needed equipment.

Balyeat told Council she doesn’t think General Fund tax revenues will meet projections for the year.

“We’re not to the point where it’s critical, but we’re still relying on the .22 tax to pay police and fire salary and fringe benefits, so we’re always looking for General Fund tax dollars to increase,” she said.

Council adopted amendments to the Job Creation Incentive Program, which offers tax breaks to companies that meet preset job creation and payroll levels.

One amendment to the measure would grandfather in MEK so the new local company could apply for a tax incentive. The company, which did meet a $250,000 payroll threshold needed for the incentive, fell two jobs short of the 10 jobs needed to earn an incentive within the timeframe allowed. Council also increased the timeframe for creating new jobs so companies who meet the payroll requirement have a better chance to meet job creation benchmarks as well.

Several city officials, including Council President Jon Tomlinson, Mayor Jerry Mazur, and Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming honored the Van Wert High School varsity baseball team for its appearance in the state final four — the first time a Cougar baseball team has reached that plateau. It was also the first time a Van Wert baseball team has won a regional championship.

Fleming also recognized the VWHS track program, which he said had “the most successful day in its history” at the Division II state track meet, capped by a state championship in the discus by junior Kirsten Clay. Jill Gemmer earned a second-place finish in the shot put, while Clay’s brother, Austin, finished third in the shot put on the boys’ side. Kirsten Clay also earned a fifth-place finish in the shot put, while Blake Henry earned a fourth-place finish in the high jump. All earned All-Ohio honors, with Kirsten Clay earning that distinction in two events. The top eight finishers in each event are named to the All-Ohio team.

Also Monday, City Council also appointed Mark Schumm to the Van Wert Area Economic Development Corporation board.

During his report, Parks and Recreation Committee Chair Joel Penton noted that new bleachers for Smiley Park baseball fields are in and requested volunteers to help install the bleachers, starting at 8 a.m. this Thursday, June 13. Those wanting to help out can call the Parks Department at 419.238.9121.

Councilman At-Large Warren Straley also reported that his do more research on a proposal to create an annual community program that would allow city residents to discard items they can’t place in a trash bag, such as appliances and other larger items.

Council members were also in favor of House Bill 166, a bill in the General Assembly that would restore the Local Government Fund program.

In addition, Tomlinson talked about the need for a plan of action related to a November ballot issue asking voters to decide on whether they support the city going to a charter form of government. Also on the ballot would be election of members of a committee that would be tasked with creating a charter government plan if voters approved moving forward with that option.

The next meeting of Van Wert City Council will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 24, in Council Chambers on the second floor of the Municipal Building, 515 E. Main St.

POSTED: 06/11/19 at 12:18 am. FILED UNDER: News