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Budget Looms As Columbus Considers Cutting Costs, Passing Taxes

The City of Columbus received its certified 2009 budget from the state earlier this week, more than eight months after it was passed.

Columbus Mayor Fred Armstrong says budget certifications, along with tax collections and assessments are all behind schedule, putting the city’s 2010′s budget up in the air.

He says the city has only “revenue guesstimates” due to the delays, meaning planning by city departments are months behind where they normally are.

Armstrong says that uncertainty only adds frustration to a budget process that must include major cuts.

“Nothing’s off the table. Are we going to do business in a different way? Yes. Are we going to lose some services? Yes. Are we going to lose personnel? Yes. Are city employees currently going to take some type of a cut somehow? Yes. All of those things are on the table,” Armstrong said.

Columbus cut $6 million last year from its city budget, must cut $4 million this year and might have to cut up to $4 million next year. And because its 2009 budget was only certified recently, Armstrong says the city still may have to make more cuts to that budget before the year is out.

City budget planners will also have to contend with the fact it’s properties were assessed 10 percent lower than a year ago, partially due to damage caused by last summer’s historic floods. While waiting for tax payments, Armstrong says the city’s living off its savings accounts.

New or increased taxes or user fees will most likely garner serious consideration before this summer’s August 1st tax deadline, Armstrong says, as the city needs new revenue in addition to cutting expenses.

The Columbus City Council will consider 2010′s budget in August or September.

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