Saturday, November 6, 2004

Cheviot budget cuts under way

By Kevin Aldridge
Enquirer staff writer

CHEVIOT - Curbside leaf pickup and recycling services will be among budget casualties after defeat of the city's first attempt at a tax increase since 1980.

Mayor Sam Keller said Friday that all nonessential city services will be reviewed. Cheviot is facing a projected $130,000 general fund deficit this year and a larger one in 2005.

Keller said city officials were counting on the 4.25-mill operating levy to help replenish the general fund, which is about $4 million annually. Voters defeated the levy - which would have cost the owner of a $100,000 home an added $103 a year - by 63 votes.

As a result, the city has put limits on overtime, suspended leaf collection service and stopped drop-off recycling. A quarterly garbage fee of $8 has been discussed.

To control overtime costs this winter, Keller said city streets would be salted and plowed only during normal business hours.

Cheviot City Council held an emergency meeting Thursday to discuss the cuts and brainstorm ways to generate additional income. Council members began the process of placing another levy on a special ballot in February. But city officials said even if that levy passed, they wouldn't collect any money until early 2006.

In the early 1990s, Cheviot faced a similar financial crunch and charged a $5 garbage fee to make ends meet. But residents placed a referendum on the ballot and got the fee repealed.

Keller said some council members are reluctant to bring the fee back.

"I would tend to favor it because it gets us out of the hole immediately," Keller said. "We would do away with the fee if the levy passes in February."


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