City looks to hike funds

Revenue sought to offset state losses.
Huber Heights has $4M less in 2013 budget than in last year’s.

By Steven Matthews

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HUBER HEIGHTS — The city of Huber Heights will enter 2013 looking at ways to generate more revenue to offset losses in state funding. That could mean returning to voters to request more money.

City Council recently approved the city’s annual budget, which dropped from $69 million in 2012 to $65 million in 2013.

Finance Director Jim Bell said the $4 million difference is attributed to loss in personnel through attrition as well as the city not anticipating using as many TIF funds as it did in 2012.

“Council has some difficult decisions to make on how to replenish revenue losses, and they’ll be looking to staff for recommendations,” Bell said. “Our goal is to educate our residents about the losses we have suffered in revenues.”

Bell said Huber Heights is projected to lose $1 million in state funding, including the Local Government Fund, and another $1 million potentially if House Bill 601 passes as it is presently written. House Bill 601 is designed to simplify Ohio’s municipal income tax code.

“This is significant dollars, and that’s why assistance is going to be needed,” Bell said. “We’ve been cutting expenses for four years now without having to cut services to the public. We now have to look at replacing revenue sources.”

Bell said the city’s options could range from putting a levy on the ballot in 2013 to reducing the city’s income tax credit. Huber Heights currently offers a full credit of 2 percent.

Back in March, an income tax increase from 2 to 2.25 percent was rejected by voters — a measure that would have generated about $1.6 million annually and started July 1. Assistant city manager Donnie Jones had said 70 percent of that revenue generated would have been from non-Huber Heights residents who work in the city.

Mayor Ron Fisher said there is “nothing on the table right now” as far as a levy in 2013. He said he’s more concerned about 2014.

“I don’t think we’ll have any problems for 2013,” Fisher said. “We’re going to do business as usual and tighten the areas where we can. It’s always difficult to project exactly what is going to be coming in.”

Fisher cited the $114,375 in profit that was generated by the Kroger Aquatic Center at The Heights in its first season as a new source of revenue. The proposed $18 million music center that could be open as early as spring 2014 will create new jobs and increase the city’s income tax revenue, Fisher said.

“We expect to make money on the music center,” he said.

The city also will save $106,000 in 2013 by switching health care providers.

Contact this reporter at 937-225-2281 or Follow him on Twitter@StevenWMatthews.