Last updated: June 14. 2014 12:06PM - 155 Views
By DEBRA GASKILL Special Correspondent

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BEAVERCREEK — Facing a potential 2015 shortfall, city council began discussions on how best to balance its budget Monday.

“Once again, due to the money that the state withheld to balance its budget, (and) the elimination of the estate tax, that totals about $2 million a year out of the city budget,” said Mayor Brian Jarvis in a telephone interview Tuesday. “We’ve been able to balance our budget by reorganizing, we’ve not hired (staff) and we’re still short.”

The city is required by the state auditor’s office to keep a 15 percent balance in its general funds.

While “for 2014, we’re OK,” Jarvis said, the city faces a $486,000 shortfall in 2015. That shortage could grow to a projected $4.64 million by 2019 if something isn’t done, according to information presented at Monday’s work session.

Council discussed four potential solutions: reducing services, which could potentially involve furloughs; Layoffs; early retirement payouts; or placing one of three operating levies on the ballot — a general operating levy, a park district/senior center operating levy or an income tax levy.

The proposed operating levy would be .7 mills and cost $24.50 annually for the owner of a $100,000 house. The income tax millage amount would be based on operational costs and budget needs

“The operating fund levy is very broad,” Jarvis said. “Beavercreek residents want something specific they can put their finger on. Beavercreek residents are not big proponents of income tax, as we found.”

An additional educational component for the income levy would need to be considered as well, Jarvis said.

The leading contender is currently a small property tax to shore up the parks department, Jarvis said, although “all options should be discussed in the short term.”

There are 622 acres spread across 22 parks and council is considering a “very small parks levy, just enough to make up the difference,” Jarvis said.

There are three potential ways a parks/senior center levy could be placed on the ballot.

• An operations levy only would be approximately .7-mills and cost the owner of a $100,000 home $24.50 annually. It would create a separate fund for the parks and senior center but in order to keep the millage low, uses fund balances and a small transfer from the general fund.

• A capital component would cost approximately .4 to .5 mills and cost owners of a $100,000 house $17.50 per year but does not include Owens Place funding and does not address the general fund problems.

• A combination of the two would be approximately 1.2 mills and cost $42.00 for each $100,000 of home valuation.

Other solutions include allowing Ohio Lottery keno games at the golf club and selling nearly 31 acres of property at Bull Skin Run for an additional one-time influx of cash to the general fund, “but that kicks the cans down the road doesn’t solve the problem,” Jarvis said.

According to a May 30 memo from Mike Thonnerieux, interim parks director, profit from keno games could be small, and while the lottery games may need high traffic to be successful, the games themselves “do not drive traffic.”

In order for a levy to be placed on the November ballot, council must have the resolution certified by the Greene County Auditor’s office by July 14 and approved by July 28 in order to meet the Aug. 6 filing deadline.

More information on the options will be presented at the Monday, June 16 work session, Jarvis said.

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