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Akron Budget Gap Could Be Reduced by Month's End

photo of Akron City Council

Akron’s projected budget gap has been cut almost in half, but the president of city council says there’s more room for improvement.

Earlier this month, Akron officials estimated that this year’s shortfall would be $916,000. Part of the gap was due to decreased income tax collections last year. As budget hearings concluded last week, the city’s budget director said that number had been reduced by $400,000.

Council President Margo Sommerville says they are exploring ways to make up the rest by cutting costs and also bringing in additional revenue.

“The city has not made any increases in our parking fees since, I think, it was 1996. Parking tickets in Akron, we’re collecting about 86 percent of our parking ticket payments. So we’re doing good in that area and so that’s potentially one area where we could increase some revenues.”

Sommerville adds that the quarter-percent income tax increase that was approved by voters last year is dedicated to fire, police, and roads, and can't be used to reduce the deficit.

“We’re talking about getting new cruisers for our police officers. We’re talking about making sure all firefighters have a second set of fire gear. We’re talking about paving more roads than we have – I think the Mayor told us – since the recession.”

Sommerville adds that most the calls she gets from residents concern road repairs.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.