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Norton City Council reviews budget for next year

11/29/2012 - West Side Leader
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By John Benson

Norton Finance Director Laura Starosta detailed the city’s prepared 2013 budget at the Nov. 26 Norton City Council meeting.

“Right now for 2013, I’m projecting close to a 19 percent carryover,” Starosta said. “Ideally, we’d like to see that at 25 percent, which would be a three-month carryover.”

Starosta said the budget does not include the cost of televising Council meetings, a requirement that was passed during the Nov. 6 General Election by charter amendment. According to the charter amendment, upon passage of the issue, the city has 60 days to “arrange and commence public airings of all Council meetings, work sessions and workshops,” which would be televised “live, in their entirety, without censorship and/or editing.” The amendment also requires meetings to be repeated twice during the week.

“The administration is still investigating what is available to us,” she said. “Once that’s determined, I’m sure we’ll come back to you.”

Council Vice President Todd Bergstrom (Ward 1) asked Starosta when the televised meeting cost is established, will the city have to find funds already allocated in the budget?

“Absolutely,” she said.

The budget, which was submitted to Council last week, includes $35,000 to repair a center section of the Safety-Administration Building roof. Also, the Norton Police Department covers 39 percent of the General Fund budget, and the unused $430,000 for the 2012 road program will be transferred to 2013, Starosta said. The budget also includes hiring a temporary part-time employee in the finance department since an employee is retiring before hiring a permanent replacement.

The budget does not include a replacement community development director. The position was formerly held by John Moss, who died of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident in September.

Council President Don Nicolard (Ward 2) asked when the 2013 budget needed to be passed.

Starosta replied by the end of the year.

“We’re going to have to suspend rules to get this passed,” Nicolard said. “We can discuss it at the next committee work session, but it has to be on the agenda Dec. 10.”

When Mayor Mike Zita pointed out the city could schedule a special Council meeting between its Dec. 10 meeting and Christmas, Nicolard said, “We undoubtedly will.” The Dec. 10 meeting is the last regularly scheduled Council meeting of the year.

Also during the meeting, resident Joe Danko complained about an eyesore property on Shellhart Road.

“How long can you feel sorry for someone?” Danko said. “There are four cars in the driveway, four cookers that don’t work. Don’t see nobody from the city. I don’t know what it’ll take to get that cleaned up. They say they have 50 bad properties in the city of Norton. They better hire help so he can go around and see what needs to be done.”

Resident Audrey Kornacki spoke to Council about its 2013 budget in relation to community concerns.

“We have been hearing about [the city’s] budget for the last three or four times I’ve been in here, but I want you to consider our budget,” Kornacki said. “You’ve got your fire department and your school levies passed, and that’s really going to cut into our budget.

“We don’t get a raise on our Social Security checks,” she added. “And the people who were working out there for $20 an hour have lost that and their wages are cut down to $10 an hour. That cuts into their budget. So when you start talking about the sewers again, I want you to consider our budget. We can’t handle that price.”

In other news, Administrative Officer Rick Ryland said Superintendent of Public Service Ted Weinsheimer has turned in his resignation effective Dec. 7. He said he’s sorry to see him go and will have a hard time filling that position by his departure date.

“Onward and upward for Ted Weinsheimer, and one step down for Norton,” said Nicolard.

The next Norton City Council meeting is set for Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at the Safety-Administration Building, 4060 Columbia Woods Drive.

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