Updated: February 7, 2013 6:23AM
PORTAGE — “We have very good news to report,” said Clerk-Treasurer Christopher Stidham as he outlined the positive 2012 budget results to the Portage City Council at its first meeting of 2013.
Due to many steps taken throughout 2012, the city’s general fund had a positive balance at year’s end, compared with a negative balance throughout 2011, according to Stidham.
“Twenty fewer employees helps a lot,” said Mayor James Snyder referring to an employee early retirement program implemented to save money.
“Changes taken throughout the year have resulted in $800,000 in cost savings to the budget,” Snyder said.
A $1.7 million bailout from the Portage Redevelopment Commission contributed to the positive position of the city; $700,000 of the grant went toward relieving the city of a bond repayment and $1 million was spent on the Employee Medical Benefits (EMB) fund, which was experiencing severe cost overruns of about $1 million, Snyder said.
“The Motor Vehicle Highway (MVH) fund continues to be a troubled fund for us,” said Stidham, citing declining revenue sources.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Modesto called the positive balance in the EMB fund, “a false positive because of the money from the redevelopment commission.”
A major program developed throughout 2012 to reduce costs is finally ready for implementation.
Republic Services will begin delivering new garbage and recycling containers to Portage residents beginning Jan. 7. About 24,000 containers will be delivered over the course of two to three weeks.
Automated garbage pick-up begins on Feb. 4. Daily pick-up services have been reduced from five days per week to four and recyclables will be picked up every other week.