Council passes 2010 budget with across-the-board reductions

March 23, 2010

Funding salvaged to restore some Police Auditor hours

Akron City Council Monday night passed a dramatically reduced city budget for fiscal year 2010.

The $514 million budget for 2010 is nearly $39 million less than the 2009 budget. The decreased budget reflects the Finance Department's recommended 15 percent wage and benefit cuts across all city departments, including City Council. The total wage and benefit payouts budgeted for 2010 are $101.5 million, compared to $182 million spent in 2009.

Council's Budget and Finance Committee Chair Tina Merlitti said the $1.05 million allocated for Council wages and other expenses for 2010 reflect 16 percent in cuts to wages, administrative costs and expenses like service contracts and travel.

"Other departments were able to meet the reduction requests of the Finance Department, including Council," Merlitti (W-7) said. "We went through the budget line by line and made sure we were where we needed to be. We were right in line with everybody else."

As a result of the trimmed Council budget, Merlitti said no members will attend the annual spring conference of the National League of Cities in Washington.

The city-wide wage cuts do not include bargaining units such as police and fire, which are still in negotiations, Merlitti said. However, the 2010 budget does include funding to restore the Police Auditor's hours to nearly full-time.

Akron Police Auditor Phil Young's hours were cut from 40 to 20 in November, yet Young testified to Council during budget hearings that he has still spent full-time hours responding to residents' complaints about Akron Police. The new budget increases his hours to 36.

Council President Marco Sommerville said he and Council agree his work is too important to be cut, and while his hours have not been restored to full-time, 36 are better than 20.

"I think it's only right and proper that Mr. Young be given back his full-time hours," Sommerville (W-3) said. "He's been under tremendous pressure to do his job. He needs more staff, but at least his hours are increased."