Fostoria OKs temporary budget

FOSTORIA — City Council approved temporary budget appropriations Tuesday for the beginning of 2018.

Belinda Miller, a representative from Auditor of State Dave Yost’s Office who is helping Fostoria work through its fiscal crisis, said the budget’s temporary status is to give city and state officials more time to approve a revised five-year recovery plan and permanent budget for 2018.

She said temporary appropriations must be in place by Jan. 1 for local government to run.

Councilman Greg Cassidy said he was concerned city officials were not given enough time to examine temporary appropriations or permanent appropriations.

Miller said there were no decisions to be made on the temporary budget because it must follow the five-year recovery plan approved in March. She said the temporary budget will be one-quarter of last year’s budget, plus debt considerations.

She also said council and the city administration would have until March to approve a permanent budget and a revised recovery plan, but she said it is more likely the two will be approved in January or February.

“The new budget will be in line with the new plan,” Miller said. “You will have plenty of time to evaluate. You’re going to have plenty of time to talk about it.”

The revised five-year plan is a stipulation of Fostoria being placed under fiscal emergency status by the state in May 2016. The five-year plan must be updated annually and the budget must mirror the plan.

Safety Service Director Deb Hellman said auditor’s office representatives are to work on the permanent budget with city council during a work session at 6 p.m. Jan. 9.

She said meetings also are likely to be scheduled Jan. 16-18 to have the budget read and voted on.

Council suspended its three-reading rule to approve the temporary budget Tuesday.

In other business, council suspended the three-reading rule and approved legislation revoking a tax abatement agreement with Rensko Properties, the company that agreed to construct a Tim Hortons restaurant at 918 N. Countyline St.

The city entered into a Community Reinvestment Area agreement Dec. 20, 2016, with the Westerville-based developer. The deal granted a 10-year, 50-percent tax reduction for the property. Earlier this year, the city agreed to extend the construction timeline for the project.

The legislation states, “Without warning to the city, Rensko Properties Fostoria listed their North County Line (sic) (property) for sale.”

The ordinance also states the company had not responded to a Dec. 5 communication from the city requesting a response regarding its intentions to build the restaurant.

Mayor Eric Keckler said Tuesday night the city still had not received correspondence from the company.

Councilman Brian Shaver said after the meeting that the city was doing its “due diligence” by revoking the agreement because the company had “reneged” on the deal.

The future of the restaurant in Fostoria remains unclear.

In other news, Third Ward Councilman Jonathan Hay served at his last meeting. Hay did not seek re-election.

Keckler and Shaver thanked Hay for his service.

Council President Steve Kauffman said the city has received no applications to fill the vacant seat. Keckler said the city would accept applications until Jan. 2.

“(Hopefully), someone will want to be part of this fine body,” he said.