While the city is not in a financial crisis right now, Belpre's auditor wants to make sure it doesn't happen in the future.
On the surface, finances don't look bad in Belpre, but city auditor Patrick Hines says that's because of a carry-over in funds from the 2003 budget and keeping expenses down.
Hines says the problem is one most of us are facing right now.
"There's acquisitions of a different type of equipment that have been pretty much eliminated," Hines says, "and we're down to basically to the bare bones of keeping everybody working through the end of this year. However, next year, there's no guarantees of that."
What is doing fine is the fund for the city's utilities, such as water and sewer. The revenues for that fund come from fees, which can be increased by acts of City Council.
On the other hand, the general government fund, from which come police, fire and other public safety monies, is paid for by tax dollars, specifically the city income tax and Hines says money from one fund can't be used for the other.
Belpre's Municipal Income Tax is among the lowest in the area, even among the lowest in Ohio, but Belpre residents may not want to see higher income taxes each April, considering they've seen several utility hikes in recent years.
The unknown variable is the economy. While there have been promising signs of late, Hines notes our area is traditionally slower than others to see the benefits.
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