MARTINS FERRY - City council passed its budget in preparation for next year during a meeting Tuesday night. The council meeting was held early due to the Independence Day celebration and fireworks scheduled for tonight.
"It'll be a very, very tight budget next year, the same as this year," said Finance Committee Member Robert Hunker, noting the cuts in state funding, combined with a 29-percent increase in health insurance at a cost of more than $200,000. He added that the city will be keeping a close watch on the general fund and water fund during the carryover to next year.
In related matters, Council Member Chris Cleary motioned that the city enter into agreement with the state auditor to conduct a performance audit on the police and water departments and to apply for funding through the Ohio Auditor's Leverage for Efficiency, Accountability and Performance (LEAP) program.
Officials from the auditor's office had outlined the program's capacities during a prior meeting. Cleary reiterated that the auditors will evaluate the selected departments, compare Martins Ferry with cities of similar size and circumstances, and make recommendations that the city is free to follow or disregard. He said the police and water departments were selected for audit because they were the largest funds. The departments examined may change as council meets with the auditors.
Cleary said the audit could begin within weeks with the goal of finding ways to save money by running as efficient an operation as possible. Possible suggestions could touch on equipment and employees.
In addition to the budget, council motioned to update the ordinance book.
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