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MELISSA MACKEY

Staff Writer

Gas prices and the emerald ash borer were two unexpected costs to the city of Powell’s budget this year.

Powell City Council moved $28,000 from its contingency fund Tuesday night to cover the unanticipated costs brought forward by Powell Finance Director Debra Miller. The costs are associated with gas usage within the Powell Police Department and the removal of trees that have been infested by the emerald ash borer.

The police department has used 86.8 percent of its gasoline budget for the year due to the higher cost of gasoline and increased usage. The department is currently evaluating the reason behind the increased usage and will address it during the upcoming 2012 budget hearings, Miller said. To get the department through the year, Miller estimated an additional $12,000 will be needed.

Also discussed was the “tree crisis,” an issue that Jeff Snyder, Powell parks and recreation director, has talked about previously. There are several trees located in the right-of-way inside the city of Powell limits that are damaged and must be removed. The estimated cost for removal is $10,000.

The ordinance also moves $6,000 from Powell’s general fund for the Delaware County auditor and treasurer fee since the city received higher than anticipated estate tax collections.

The city has $30,956 left in its contingency fund, Miller told the council. Powell Council already has spent $16,044 from the fund for unemployment claims ($10,100); tree trimming and clearing ($5,100); and the holiday tree ($844).

In other business Tuesday, the Powell council members discussed the results of the city’s bond ratings from Moody’s Investors Service and Standard and Poor’s. The ratings, an Aa1 rating from Moody’s, and a AA+ from Standard and Poor’s, respectively, represent the high credit worthiness of the city, and an increase in rating from Moody’s. The Standard and Poor’s rating remained the same, but both ratings are one step below the highest rating of AAA.

Powell City Manager Steve Lutz said that the city will continue to strive for the coveted AAA rating from both services. In order to do that, the city will be bringing forth in the coming months — including one approved Tuesday night — written policies that the city already practices. Doing so will help improve the city’s rating, Lutz said.

The other aspect that will improve the rating is identifying a long-term funding source for capital improvements in the city. Once these two articles are complete, Lutz said the agencies would give serious consideration to the highest rating.

Councilman Richard Cline, finance committee chairman, said the committee will examine the answer to identifying a long-term funding source for capital improvements over the next year in hopes of attaining the highest credit rating possible.

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