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City Services Safe Under 2013 Richmond Heights Budget

The city will leave several positions unfilled in order to attain a balanced budget, City Manager Amy Hamilton wrote in a memo this week.

Keeping several city positions unfilled for the 2013 fiscal year that begins July 1 will enable to attain a balanced budget, City Manager Amy Hamilton wrote in a memo this week.

The jobs that would remain unfilled for a fifth year are one police officer, two firefighter-paramedics and one public works operator. Various part-time staff hours also would not be filled.

At the same time, the while providing a 3 percent merit pay increase to staff. The budget would cover projected increases in the cost of health care, dental and other forms of insurance.

"The City's reserve balances did support municipal services during some challenging times, but revenues must grow in order for the City to remain fiscally healthy," Hamilton wrote Monday in the memo to Mayor James Beck and City Council. "The City's efforts in building these reserves over several years enabled the City to maintain all service levels, preventing reductions in force, and ensure that the City's financial position remains on solid ground."

Among the threats to city revenue identified in the memo: A projected growth in Internet sales. Richmond Heights sales tax revenues have grown 10 percent this fiscal year thanks to the opening of retailers such as Nordstrom, though they declined in the two preceding years.

"Without a national or statewide solution to Internet sales, Richmond Heights can expect that sales tax revenues will remain flat line or possibly decrease in coming years as the Internet market expands," Hamilton wrote. "This proposed budget projects sales tax revenues will not increase next year, but remain constant."

Richmond Heights continues to maintain reserves for its general fund and its parks and recreation fund at a level above the city-mandated 25 percent minimum, Hamilton wrote. Staff has also cut costs to maintain a balanced budget.

The memo mentions planned developments—the Menards and Pace Properties projects identified for Hadley Township have been a topic of conversation in recent weeks—but notes that they are not included in the budget projections.

"The City has multiple developments waiting in the wings, and these will help expand revenues in the future but their timing is unknown and therefore, cannot be accounted for," Hamilton wrote.

A public hearing about the proposed fiscal year 2013 budget is planned for the council's May 21 meeting.

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