Financial Committee approves increase to 2009 city budget

Sarah McGrath

Possible $5 million set aside for new Kent City Police building

the Kent City Council met Wednesday evening to discuss and pass the city’s 2009 budget. The budget passed with a 6 to 3 vote.

With all members of city council in attendance, the committee discussed every aspect of the more than $40.5 million budget. This budget has increased by less then $2 million from last year’s $38.6 million budget.

“I think it is a good solid budget with no drastic changes,” said Ward 3 Councilman Wayne Wilson. “We have been doing pretty conservative budgets the past couple of years.”

Despite tough economic times, the 2009 budget includes $5 million set aside to help build a new service building for the Kent City Police Department.

Wilson, who spoke in favor of the project, said the Police Department’s current building is in poor shape and is well past due for a new one. He also said this is the best time for the city to build a new facility.

“Right now, with the situation we have with the Portage County courts, the Sheriff’s Department and Kent State University, we have a chance to keep the price lower than what it could be by all joining together,” Wilson said.

Not all members of City Council were in favor of the project. Ward 4 Councilman John Kuhar raised questions about the plan more than once during Wednesday’s meeting.

“We do need a new police service facility, there is no doubt about that,” said Kuhar after the meeting. “I just felt that the $5 million, almost 13 percent of our yearly budget – and with the economy the way it is – this was not the time to budget that much money.”

Kuhar, who says he plans on voting against the budget when it goes before city council, also voiced concerns over not making enough cuts to the budget. Kuhar, along with Ward 2 Councilman Jack Amrhein and Ward 6 Councilwoman Tracy Wallach, voted against the budget during the committee meeting.

“I am firm believer that in economic times you can trim things out of any budget, and I am sure there are more things that we could trim,” Kuhar said.

Barbara Rissland, the director of budget and finance for Kent, has been working on the project since spring.

“It is a status quo budget where we did not increase any position or eliminate any programs,” Rissland explained.

While the budget was passed during the Financial Committee meeting, which all city council members attended, it still needs to pass during a city council meeting before it is put into effect. A special city council meeting has been scheduled for Dec. 3 to officially pass the 2009 budget.

Contact public affairs reporter Sarah McGrath at [email protected].