Columbus Has Nearly Used Up Rainy-Day Fund

City Auditor Hugh Dorrian blames excessive spending by City Council for Columbus' dwindling rainy-day fund.

A report exclusively obtained by 10TV News reveals that the fund's balance has plunged to $15 million, far less than the projected $80 million shortfall the city is facing, 10TV's Kevin Landers reported.

"Over the past several years the city has been spending more than it's been collecting," Dorrian told 10TV News. The auditor said City Council spent more money than it took in for seven of the past nine years.

"We've been living off our rainy-day fund, and now it's just about gone," Dorrian said.

The auditor said the current national economic crisis would have been easier for the city to manage had spending been kept under control during the past decade.

Dorrian believes the city's finances are so bad, City Council will have no choice but to institute fees and ask voters to raise taxes.

"We are going to have to recognize we can not sustain the level of services that we are giving today on the revenues we're getting," Dorrian said.

Among the proposals being discussed are raising the city income tax by up to half a percent, and charging residents for garbage pickup.

Dorrian said without more revenue, the city will have to continue cutting police, firefighters and other services.

"I don't want to see this city decline, and we are declining in our services right now," Dorrian said.

Next week, Dorrian will tell City Council it will have $13 million less to spend than previously thought.

The auditor said the reduction is the result of drops in income tax revenue, interest on investments, and funds from the county and state.

Dorrian's report on the rainy-day fund will be officially released next week.

Watch 10TV News and refresh for continuing coverage of the city's fiscal crisis.

Previous Stories:

January 28, 2009: Coleman Orders 5-Day Layoffs
January 27, 2009: City Dismisses CPD Recruit Class
January 26, 2009: Columbus Firefighters Agree To Delay Pay Raises
January 25, 2009: Firefighter Union Votes On Mayor's Pay Freeze Request
January 23, 2009: Union Rejects Coleman's Pay Freeze Proposal
January 22, 2009: Labor Complaint Filed Against Coleman
January 22, 2009: Residents Offer Ideas On Columbus Budget Woes
January 7, 2009: Columbus Saw Record OT Payments In 2008
November 21, 2008: Proposed Recreation Cuts Draw Protests
November 18, 2008: Budget Cuts Can't Be Avoided, Coleman Tells Council
November 10, 2008: No Raise For Mayor Coleman, 400 Non-Union Workers