State Budget Passes, Lakewood Prepares to Cut 30 Jobs
Gov. John Kasich passes two-year, $56 billion budget — one that presents city leaders with some difficult decisions.
As far as state cuts to the local government fund in the Ohio budget, at least Lakewood was prepared for the worst.
On Wednesday, city officials learned the Gov. John Kasich's $56 billion budget passed the Ohio House of Representatives, and on Thursday, Kasich singed the two-year budget into law.
What does that mean for Lakewood?
For starters, it means reductions of about $1.6 million in funds allocated to the city government, about $200,000 in commercial activity tax, about $2 million in estate tax — and as many as 30 positions cut from the city staff.
Mayor Michael Summers said the city is in for a rough financial stretch.
"You either raise revenue from other sources, or you reduce costs," he said. "In the near term, the one that's most compelling and most appropriate for us is to cut costs."
"The question becomes how do we reduce our head costs without reducing our service level?"
The city will use attrition — as city employees retire — to begin the round of cuts, he said. But at least some layoffs are expected.
"It can't be out of the question," Summers said. "I wish it was."
He said the city will also identify other ways the city can save money, including collaboration with neighboring communities to share resources.
Summers said the budget didn't deviate too much from its introduction earlier this year. The only significant change, he said, was the deferral of the estate tax, which won't begin Jan 1, 2013.
"What we thought was going to happen — what we didn't want to happen — happened," he said.
State Rep. Nickie Antonio, of Lakewood, wasn't thrilled with the cuts either. She, along with every state Democrat, voted against the budget.
“Today, the buck was passed one last time to the wealthy-passing over the working and middle class families of Ohio," she said on Wednesday. "Education, safe and clean communities and our seniors are a priority to me — unfortunately this cannot be said of the Republican majority.”
This isn't the first time Lakewood has had to tighten its belt.
During the past few years, to balance its own budget, the city was forced to make some cuts — to the tune of more than $3.7 million. More than 50 jobs — across nearly every department — were eliminated.
Summers said there isn’t too much more the city can cut.
He said he is planning to sit down with the city's finance department to map out the next steps.
"Lakewood has been anticipating this," he said. "The game's afoot, it begins in earnest and we're ready for it. It's going to be challenging and difficult."
Lakewood Patch reporter Matt LaWell contributed to this report