By Shayla Menville - Staff Writer
July 31, 2013 — City budgets typically are adopted prior to July 1 but August is almost here and the City of Olive Hill still does not have a new operating budget in place.
Mayor Kenny Fankell said the delay is due in part to major disagreements among Council members regarding the budget.
Budget discussions continued at a special work session last Tuesday.
“I submitted a budget to the Council in May but there have been disagreements and clarifications needed and that has held up the process,” said Fankell.
At the work session, Council reviewed submitted budget proposals from all departments and discussed how to offset an expected revenue shortfall of $60,000.
“We have to find a way to balance the proposed budget because the revenue just isn't there,” said Fankell. “In my 12 years serving on Council I have never seen a hole as big as $60,000.”
Some solutions proposed by Council members were cuts to every department, increasing revenue with a payroll tax and a fire tax.
Council member Glenn Meade proposed cutting money from budgets across the board.
“There are some budgets that we can't touch because of legal stipulations and agreements but we have to look at non-essential expenses and cut without too many repercussions in the future,” said Meade. “We cannot depend on utilities to make up the difference in what we have and what we need. We must take precautionary measures so we don't run out of funds before the end of the year.”
Tax is a bad word to most elected officials but several Council members say they do not see another way to raise revenue for the struggling city budget.
“I would much rather see money from paychecks come to Olive Hill than go to Grayson, which is what is happening now,” said Council member Jerry Callihan. “We have to make cuts, yes, but we have to actively search for new revenue.”
Almost every city department has less money than last year’s budget allotted and is expected be hit with another round of cuts as Council finishes its work.
Fankell said Council will hold another work session, time and date undetermined, to further discuss the city’s budget troubles.
“It could be a lengthy meeting so it will be separate and we will conduct the first reading of the budget ordinance then so that it can hopefully be finalized by our regular August meeting,” he added.
Council also held a special meeting at an earlier time on the same day to approve payments to Santec in the amount of $12,172 through a Community Development Block Grant for work on the Tygart’s Creek watershed project.
Another payment was made to E.L. Robinson Engineering and the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority totaling $11,175 through coal bonds for work being done regarding the citiy’s wastewater system.
The regular meeting of Olive Hill City Council will be Tuesday, Aug. 20, at 6 p.m. at the Senior Citizens Center.