YOUNGSTOWN — City council will consider approving a city budget of $200 million on Tuesday, including about $2.3 million for the purchase of new equipment and improvement projects.
The capital and improvement work is being paid for from unused money the city has received from the federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act and state worker’s compensation reimbursements, said Kyle Miasek, the city’s chief financial officer. The city received $5.3 million from the CARES Act and $1.89 million in worker reimbursements.
The city used $1.06 million from both funding sources last year for capital purchases.
“We weren’t able to make these big investments in equipment and other purchases in a few years because the money wasn’t available,” Miasek said. “It was generated by one-time revenues, which allows us to spend them on projects of this size and scope. We use it for the provision of services.
The streets service is budgeted for $1.47 million – the most of any city service.
She will use it to buy two street sweepers at a cost of $420,000, as well as six brush hog tractors for mowing tall grass, two zero-turn lawn mowers, one tractor and two trucks. It also includes $400,000 to replace the roof of the Street Service office on Teamster Drive, $145,000 to replace the roof of the nearby salt dome and $75,000 to build another outdoor facility to store salt from roads.
The police department is budgeted to get $530,000, with the biggest purchase being seven SUVs costing $420,000. The rest of the money is used to buy 10 used unmarked vehicles and radio chargers.
The Parks and Recreation Department will receive $138,500, with the largest expenditure being $78,000 to purchase two mowers for the city-owned Henry Stambaugh Golf Course. The rest of the money is for two zero-turn mowers, two office copiers and other lawn equipment.
“We haven’t made any real investments in years,” said Councilwoman Lauren McNally, D-5th Ward and chair of the finance committee. “Now that we have the extra money, we need to invest in the street and parks departments. These are the departments that make people want to live in the city. We should take the opportunity when we have it.
The Public Works Department receives $75,000 to make improvements to the police station garage, the Health Department receives $65,000 for two vehicles and two office copiers, the Fire Department receives $31,200 for an elevator so he can get under his heaviest fire engines to make repairs, and the DA’s office gets $10,500 for a copier.
Last year, the city spent $1.06 million on capital purchases from unused CARES Act and workers’ compensation money. This included two snowplow trucks, money to refurbish a fire truck, a truck for the Environmental Sanitation Service to help transport used mattresses, and repairs to the roof of a fire station.
The proposed budget includes hiring 10 new firefighters with an annual starting salary of $37,145 and at least 10 new police officers with an annual starting salary of $41,600. The new police recruits add to the five who joined the force earlier this month.
The new recruits will cost the city more than $1 million this year, including health benefits.
The budget also includes a 2% raise for city employees this year. The wage increases alone will cost the city’s general government fund $995,635 this year and the 2.5% increase for 2023 will cost $1,232,780.
The city’s workforce will also see a 2.5% increase in 2024.
The city collected $46,931,000 last year on its 2.75% income tax when it had planned for $43,601,000. He received $44,404,600 in 2020, which was considerably less than the $47,133,500 he received in 2019.
The city cannot use its $82,775,370 in federal American Rescue Plan Act money to directly pay salaries and benefits, but it can use it to repay the general fund from tax revenue lost during the pandemic. of COVID-19. He can use the previous three years before the pandemic and compare them to the income tax revenues of 2020 and 2021.
Using 2017 to 2019 as a comparison to 2020, the city can recover $3,939,400 for lost revenue for that year from the ARP, Miasek said. The city does not plan to request money from the ARP for 2021.
The administration has not yet asked the city council for permission to transfer this money to the general fund, although it should do so soon, and then probably postpone its use until the end of the year, when it can better determine how much money is left. in the fund.
One area of concern is income tax refunds, Miasek said.
A state law allows people, beginning with the 2021 tax year, who worked in municipalities that collect income taxes like Youngstown, and now work from home in non-income tax communities to following the pandemic, to request refunds.
The law was not in place for the 2020 tax year, but the city received 140 refund requests totaling $211,648 for that year from people who believed it had taken effect, a said Miasek.
“We need to figure out how much we will have to repay in 2021,” he said. “We won’t know until late fall to see what is requested.”
Miasek projects a 1.1% increase in income tax receipts this year compared to 2021. He expects $47,440,000 in tax receipts because labor market forces have driven wage increases .