Thursday, February 27, 2003

Norwood's budget $2M shy of last year

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

NORWOOD - City Council approved a 2003 spending plan Tuesday of $16.6 million, about $2 million shy of the 2002 annual budget.

All departments face a 15 percent cut.

City officials had been predicting a $1.9 million deficit for this year because of outstanding long-term debt, but they now say they'll be able to balance the books because of their decision to refinance the city's debt with lower interest rates.

Pay cuts for officials?

Council members also are considering a 10 percent pay cut for elected officials, which would save the city about $20,000 next year.

New council members will receive $7,650 instead of $8,500, the new mayor will receive $31,950 instead of $35,500; and the next treasurer, auditor and law director will receive $23,850 instead of $26,500.

"Since the budget's so tight, the elected officials should share the pain," Councilman John Fenton said. "Most of us feel like it's the right thing to do."

They will vote on the matter at their March 11 meeting.

New police contract

In other business, the city's police officers have a new three-year contract that will accompany raises of 3 percent this year, 4 percent in 2004 and 7 percent in 2005.

The city employs about 50 officers, whose salaries range from $44,800 to $52,700 a year.

Council members approved the new contract Thursday. It will be retroactive to Jan. 1, when the old two-year agreement expired. It will boost minimum coverage throughout the city by one officer in 2005.

Right now, a minimum of five officers are on patrol between 3 a.m. and 8 p.m. and six officers for the rest of the day.

Residency became an issue in the contract negotiations. Under the old contract, new officers had to move to the city within six months. Because officers have a one-year probation period, that term has been extended to 15 months.

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