Cities and villages in Ohio are continuing to draw down their general fund balances as a result of the economic downturn, according to a 1993 report on the fiscal conditions of municipalities in the state.

The report, conducted by Miami University's Center for Public Management and Regional Affairs for the Ohio Municipal League and released on Sept. 30, was based on responses from 136 cities and villages.

Philip Russo, the center's director, said the third annual report found that the fiscal positions of the municipalities have not improved much since 1991.

According to the report, 39.2% of the governments expect to end fiscal 1993 on Dec. 31. with general fund balances of less than 5%. And the number of municipalities that expect to lower their balances to less than 1% is expected to jump to 19.2% in 1993 from 5.8% in 1992.

Russo said the responding governments are pessimistic about next year. "As they draw down their ending fund balances, we see a general hesitancy to increase revenues," he said. "Consequently, 1994 will be a year of real hard choices."

The report points to city health benefits, infrastructure needs, waste-water collection and treatment costs, and unfunded federal and state mandates as the causes of fiscal problems.

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