East Cleveland woes continue in 15th year of fiscal emergency

EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio (AP) - A Cleveland suburb is on course to exceed its budget by $800,000 in its 15th year under fiscal emergency, a designation giving a state-appointed commission authority over the budget.
The 15 years is the longest any Ohio city has been in fiscal emergency.
Commission Chairman Joe Gray, a state budget analyst, has accused officials of failing to make the best use of scarce resources.
Mayor Emmanuel Onunwor and City Council President Gladys Walcott, who sit on the commission, pledged that the city will live within its $16 million budget. State law requires a balanced budget.
The commission briefly imposed restrictions on the city this year for not submitting a financial recovery plan on time. The limits, the maximum penalty faced by a city under Ohio's fiscal emergency law, held spending to 85 percent of what was paid out in the same month a year earlier.
The commission wants East Cleveland City Council to increase a monthly garbage fee of $6 per household and ask voters to raise property taxes for police and fire.
Onunwor said residents are entitled to vote on any tax increase.
The East Cleveland schools joined the city in fiscal emergency in March, after auditors determined that the district would be $7.7 million short on cash this year. A separate commission is in charge of the schools' budget.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)