breaking news

3 of 4 people who were shot and killed in Waffle House shooting ID’d

Divided Springfield commission passes budget


A divided Springfield City Commission passed its budget for next year, which included $800,000 in cuts to the municipal court, parks and police and firefighters overtime.

The city also intends to close both a fire station and police substation on Jan. 1 and reduce staff beginning in March.

City commissioners passed the budget in a 3-2 vote Tuesday, which included a contentious, hour-long public hearing. Mayor Warren Copeland and commissioners Joyce Chilton and Karen Duncan voted in favor of the budget, while commissioners Kevin O’Neill and Dan Martin rejected it.

The cuts are about half of the the $1.5 million city leaders have debated in recent weeks in the wake of a failed income tax increase request on the November ballot. The cuts to the budget included:

• $269,000 from the municipal court budget and $182,000 from the municipal clerk of courts budget.

• $200,000 from the National Trail Parks and Recreation District.

• $100,000 in overtime for police officers and firefighters.

• Transferring the Transportation Coordinating Committee membership from the general fund to the street fund, which will save the general fund $40,000.

The initial budget released last month shows the city is projected to generate $38.4 million in general fund revenues next year. However, the city is estimating $39.8 million in spending — leaving a $1.4 million deficit. The approved budget has about $39 million in spending, leaving about a $600,000 deficit next year.

During the election, city leaders said up to 10 civilian workers at the police division could be laid off and replaced by removing officers from the streets if the levy failed. It also said it would lay off up to 25 non-union employees if voters rejected the tax increase, many of whom work at City Hall. During the campaign, city staff also said it would close Fire Station No. 5 and the police substation on Johnny Lytle Avenue.

The language was run past commissioners before being announced to residents, Copeland said. Copeland, Chilton and Duncan thought the commission had signed off on making the cuts if the tax increase failed, while O’Neill and Martin believed the language was proposed cuts that could be discussed at a later time.

“What we’re putting on our line is the trust of the people,” Copeland said. “My intention is to keep my word with the people, and I hope the commission will do that, which is to do what we told people we were going to do. If not, when are they going to believe us next time?”

O’Neill said cuts should be made to help employees keep their jobs, including suspending longevity pay for employees and reducing income tax credit given to people who live in Springfield, but work elsewhere from 1-percent to a half-percent. Those changes combined could provide about $675,000 to the city’s general fund. The city can’t afford not to make those changes because it needs to stop its deficit spending, he said.

“We’re just kind of ignoring those,” O’Neill said. “If you find other means to do things, I would think people’s livelihoods should mean more to us than what a campaign commitment was when can find other money in a different arena.”

It was not a campaign commitment, but rather what the city believes was necessary moving forward, City Manager Jim Bodenmiller said.

“I still believe I have to do those things,” he said.

The city should make fundamental changes suggested by a recent performance audit to look to the future, so it’s not continually kicking the can down the road on its budget, Martin said. He’s also suggested bringing furloughs similar to what the state government did with its employees recently and has made other recommendations to city staff in a cooperative way, Martin said.

“I feel like maybe I’m not getting heard sometimes,” Martin said.

All suggested cuts are on the table and will be examined, Copeland said.

National Trail Parks and Recreation District will receive about $700,000 in operating money. The district will also receive about $175,000 to make improvements to the parks.

More cuts should have been made at NTPRD, rather than at the fire division, Springfield resident Mike Lowe said.

“It’s a sad day when we have to lose one of our fire departments for safety compared to recreation,” Lowe said.

The city continues to try to work out an agreement with the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau on its $417,000 in funding, officials said, which may include reduced funding levels for the first six months of next year.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Politics

Fire Mueller? Don’t do it, Ohio Republicans say
Fire Mueller? Don’t do it, Ohio Republicans say

Most Ohio lawmakers on Capitol Hill — including Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton — say it would be a mistake for President Donald Trump to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, though taking action to block the president from doing so has more opposition among local Republicans. “We need to let Special Counsel...
Welfare reform caught up in passage of farm bill in Congress
Welfare reform caught up in passage of farm bill in Congress

Republicans’ next big push for welfare reform has come courtesy of a bill designed to pay for the nation’s farm programs. The federal farm bill, which expires Oct. 1, is aimed at providing federal support to farmers who may need it during tough times. But roughly 80 percent of the bill goes to federal food assistance, also known as the...
Pike County murders: Would investigation be priority for next Ohio Attorney General?
Pike County murders: Would investigation be priority for next Ohio Attorney General?

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine hopes the Pike County murders — the largest investigation in state history — will be closed by the time he leaves office in January. DeWine last year said he hoped to solve the April 22, 2016 shootings before leaving the attorney general’s office. “It’s a hypothetical, I certainly would...
Local Republican congressman says Trump’s Syria strike ‘unconstitutional’
Local Republican congressman says Trump’s Syria strike ‘unconstitutional’

Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, said President Donald Trump’s decision to launch a retaliatory strike against Syria for using chemical weapons against its own people was “unconstitutional.” “There is no authority to do that,” Davidson said during a meeting with the Dayton Development Coalition. He said while it’s appropriate...
Guns, opioids dominate talk at local Washington fly-in
Guns, opioids dominate talk at local Washington fly-in

The Dayton Development Coalition’s annual fly-in to Washington is typically a pretty locally-driven affair — lots of discussion of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Wright Brothers historical sites — but on Wednesday, the conversation briefly veered into a national social issue. Asked whether he supports outlawing assault rifles...
More Stories