Months ago, when planning began for Avon Lake's 2011 city budget, numbers pointed to a projected deficit of about $1.2 million in a $14.7 million budget.
A similar deficit projected for 2010 was , with Mayor K.C. Zuber pointing to conservative spending and an uptick in income tax collection as major factors.
And now, only three months into 2011, it appears as though this year’s projected budget could be a surplus by year’s end. Zuber said that the city has already collected $400,000 more in income tax revenue than 2010, with much of that attributed to increased production at Ford.
“The March income tax numbers are in; we are $422,000 ahead of last year at this time in collections,” Zuber said.
Those numbers bode well for the city’s budget that was approved March 14. By law, the city’s budged must be submitted to the state by March 31.
The laborious task of putting together the budget meant months of finance committee meetings, line-by-line review and several heated discussions between council, the mayor and department heads on how much each department should be allocated.
“It has not always been smooth but we have a document we can live with,” Council President Greg Zilka said, before the budget was approved by council, 6-1. “By the end of the year we’re hoping the budget will be balanced,” Zilka said, noting that the city employs less employees now than last year as the result of retiring and resigning employees who were not replaced.
Zilka is also the head of council's finance committee.
Included in the $14.7 General Fund budget is $3.9 million appropriated to the city's , $2.3 million for the $876,789 for recreation/leisure, $1.65 million for the and $1.8 million for street repair and improvements.
The street repair budget includes a late additional increase of $285,000 to include additional roadwork.
“I think that will serve us well as time goes on,” Zilka said.
The city maintains more than a $5 million surplus, however, city officials have said that maintaining a surplus is important.
“This is a strong budget, a responsible budget that keeps the city in good financial shape,” Zilka said.
Zuber said that a projected deficit does not necessarily mean the city will end the year in the red.
“What we need to remember is we never spend as much as we budget,” Zuber said, noting that last year the city spent $1 less than projected and in 2009, the city spent $800,000 less than budgeted.
Councilwoman Jennifer Fenderbosch cast the lone “no” vote saying she could not support a budget that wasn’t balanced.