Oberlin expects to finish the year with a surplus.
General fund revenue will total roughly $9.4 million by Dec. 31, said Sal Talarico, acting city manager and finance director, after a March 22 budget presentation to city council members.
There are $9.8 million in projected expenses, which works out to a $466,000 deficit.
However, Talarico hired in 2000, said city budget departments rarely spend all the money budgeted to them and he expects Oberlin to finish in the black.
He said it is premature to predict how much will be carried over into 2017.
Last year, general fund revenue was about $9.2 million and expenses were roughly $8.5 million with a $640,000 surplus.
Talarico characterized this year’s budget as “stable,” but stability has been tougher to achieve in the last five years due to state tax cuts to businesses and individuals, as well as cuts in state taxpayer aid to local governments under the administration of Gov. John Kasich and the Republican-majority legislature.
Kasich has called Ohio’s recovery from the Great Recession and the elimination of an approximately $6 billion deficit “the Ohio miracle.”
However, Democrats say the recovery has been on the backs of local governments, which have been forced to raise local taxes due to less revenue.
In 2011, the year Kasich took office, Oberlin, which has about 8,200 residents and 110 city workers, received nearly $616,000 in local aid. This year, it received nearly $324,000 — about 426 percent less.
The legislature’s abolishment of the estate tax has also been costly for Oberlin. The city received about $818,000 in 2011 and nearly $600,000 in 2013, the final year of the tax.
While cutting business and income taxes, the legislature raised Ohio’s sales tax from 5.5 percent to 5.75 percent beginning in 2013. Critics of sales taxes say they’re regressive because the rate is the same regardless of income and they disproportionately affect poor people.
With state revenue declining, Oberlin voters in 2014 approved increasing the local income tax from 1.9 percent to 2.5 percent, effective in 2015.
At 56 percent, local income taxes were the largest portion of revenue last year and this year. They are expected to net $7.4 million this year.
While paying taxes is unpopular, Oberlin voters have a perfect record of approving city levies since 1990. There have been 45 new or renewal levies approved and all passed decisively. The lowest passage margin was 59 percent to 41 percent.
Through services such as garbage collection, road improvements, and snow plowing, Talarico said taxpayers can see how their money is being spent. “Voters have confidence in what we’re doing with (their) dollars,” he said.
Evan Goodenow can be reached at 440-775-1611 or GoodenowNews on Twitter.