Reviewing The City’s Financial State With COV-19 Impact

During the Finance Committee Meeting on May 11, 2020, Amy Hendricks, Finance Director, stated she continues to review the City of Vermilion’s current financial state with the current COV-19 impact on the economy. One bit of good news they received for unemployment claims is that the city is receiving, as a part of the Cares Act Funding, a credit of 50% against any of the claims they pay during this time. They aren’t charged at all for the $600, as this is federally funded. As far as income tax goes with the settlement that came in April, the city is down only about 6%, and it’s hard to say at this point if it’s due to the extension of the tax filings or the state of the economy. She will continue to watch this along with the collections in the Utilities Department as to where they are with unpaid utility bills. They are continuing, at this point, with not charging penalties or performing shutoffs. They will monitor this as the economy moves forward. 

With regards to the Tax Budget for 2021, this year the Erie County Auditor’s office is asking the city to add an additional year in the projection. So she has been working on this and will be modifying the current year because the city’s first payroll of 2021 will fall on January 1. That, of course, is a holiday, so this will push the payroll back into 2020.

Barb Brady said other cities are freezing wages or having layoff’s, and asked if she foresees this in the immediate future. Hendricks said she does not as the city positioned themselves well. They have a barebones staff citywide and don’t have the staff as other communities do that are reducing positions.

At the of the Vermilion City Council Meeting on Monday, May 18, 2020 Hendricks reported that she received an email from RITA with a reconciliation report of April’s income tax collections and the withholding taxes for the employers within the City of Vermilion was up by 8.64%, which equals $11,600. This could be something as simple as one of the major employers had three payrolls in their month, rather than two. Additionally, individual income tax was down almost 49% from April of last year. She called RITA after receiving this information to talk about clarification, and they did confirm this could be significantly related to the postponement of the income tax filing date, so people who would have normally filed their 2019 taxes and paid the 2020 estimates so far for the year, this number may have been smaller. She will continue to watch these trends. 

She said at the Utilities meeting last week it was mentioned that a review for funding for the pricing of the testing of the laterals of the four streets in VOL was just under $15,000. She said after speaking with the Service Director and the Mayor, they do have money to do this testing. The only qualification she would give is depending on the outcome of some of this testing. She said it could be costly projects that may not be able to be completed immediately given the level of funding now, but it would give them the ability to put priorities on them.