Curbing Deficit In Steubenville

Steubenville officials have decided the city cannot afford to operate the Belleview municipal swimming pool. City Manager Cathy Davison is looking for ways to curb major expenses for the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center. And employee unions are being asked to help save the city money.

Steubenville faces a budget deficit estimated at more than $822,000 for the general fund.

This is nothing new. Municipal officials have been struggling for years to keep spending in balance with revenue.

“We are facing hard times,” Davison stressed during a recent meeting of City Council and recreation board members.

That has become painfully clear. Many communities operate swimming pools on a break-even basis, even subsidizing them to some extent because they are important public services. But Steubenville simply can’t afford to open the Belleview Pool next spring.

Municipal recreation centers often are subsidized, too. But the $236,109 operating loss at the Martin Luther King Jr. center has become too much for the city to bear.

Representatives of the three unions representing Steubenville municipal employees are being asked to consider cost-cutting proposals.

At some point, union members will have to decide whether to help their city or stick with old, rigid rules that make it difficult – impossible in some cases – to cut spending.

For the good of the community – as well as the long-term welfare of city employees – municipal union members should be willing to compromise, at least long enough to get Steubenville past a very challenging period.