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Plan for budget cuts

Telling a fellow who has been on a strict diet that he needs to tighten his belt seems cruel. Ask Steubenville City Council members.

Finances have been tight in Steubenville for several years. City officials have had to watch nickels and dimes carefully to keep municipal budgets in balance.

As they were reminded Tuesday, the task is about to grow even more challenging. During a “virtual” council meeting with members participating electronically, City Manager Jim Mavromatis reported efforts to reduce spending are underway.

Revenue for municipal government will take a beating because of the

COVID-19 epidemic, Mavromatis noted. It will be two to three months before the impact can be gauged. Already, the city is losing “and will continue to lose revenue,” he added.

City department heads have been asked to examine spending plans for the coming year, “looking for what we could possibly postpone to next year,” Mavromatis said Tuesday. City council members will have to become involved in the process.

“We don’t have a lot of fat in our city,” Mavromatis reminded members of council.

Like other local and state government officials, those in Steubenville are coping with two big unknowns. First, of course, is the impact COVID-19 will have on the economy and thus, on government revenue.

Second is how much help will be received from the federal government. A $2 trillion, 880-page bill intended to help Americans cope with the epidemic already has been enacted. Exactly how much assistance it includes for local governments is not known.

Mavromatis seems primed to prepare for the worst — and that is a wise strategy. A revised budget that cuts out all non-essential spending ought to be prepared.

Local government officials on both sides of the Ohio River would do well to adopt the same outlook.

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