Steubenville officials have projected a $34,000 deficit this year as City Council took a preliminary look Tuesday night at the proposed 2014 tax budget.
"The general fund and the water fund will finish this year in the red. But that deficit is manageable. The labor contract negotiations will have an effect on our 2013 budget. But we are really going to need to start focusing on 2014," Mayor and Acting City Manager Domenick Mucci said during a council finance committee meeting Tuesday.
Finance Committee Chairman and 6th Ward Councilman David Lalich said in May the city will face a $1,009,000 deficit in 2014 and a $2,183,000 deficit in 2015.
Mucci said the solution to the water fund will be to continue seeking bulk water customers from the oil and gas industry.
"Bulk sales are extremely important to stabilize the water fund. We need to be seeking new customers," added Mucci.
Finance Director Alyssa Kerker also told council members the city has been ordered to pay $127,942 from the city's general fund to the enterprise fund by the state auditor's office.
Kerker declined to discuss details of the state audit until a final report is issued later this year.
"We did get a determination from the state and we have to pay that money back to the enterprise fund," Kerker said.
Mucci said the tentative tax budget also includes five possible retirements in the city employee ranks.
"We aren't sure at this point but we are projecting that as a possible number," Mucci noted.
"This is not our final operating budget for 2014. This is the tax budget we are required to submit to the county by the end of July. This tax budget does set a tone for how we will operate in 2014," Mucci said.
During the sunshine meeting Tuesday night, Lalich introduced legislation to hire RBC Inc. of Mansfield to collect delinquent water accounts.
According to Law Director S. Gary Repella, "it is in the best interests of the delinquent customers to make arrangements to pay their account before their bills are turned over to the collection agency. Once the collection agency starts the collection process they will be tacking an additional percentage fee on top of the delinquent bill the customers will be required to pay. The city will receive the full amount of the delinquent bill and RBC will be paid through the additional fees."
Second Ward Councilman Rick Perkins proposed an ordinance accepting the new comprehensive plan.
The planning and zoning commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed comprehensive plan at 7 p.m. on Sept. 9.