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University Heights’ finances looking better after city takes in additional $461,000 in CARES Act money

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UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio — Although it is uncertain what lies ahead, the city’s finances are looking a lot better these days after University Heights recently received an additional $461,000 in federal CARES Act money to help it deal with COVID-related expenses.

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Gov. Mike DeWine, by signing into law House Bill 614 Oct. 1 allowed for the distribution of an additional $650 million to local governments across Ohio, bringing the total of money distributed to Ohio governments to $1.2 billion. The added $461,000 means that University Heights has now received just over $1.1 million in relief money.

“At first, we didn’t know if we’d get any (CARES Act) money,” said Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan. But, now that the city has been granted the money, Brennan, in his report at the start of Monday’s (Oct. 5) City Council meeting, told of how the aid has significantly closed the gap on what was once a projected $2-million deficit the city faced.

With the added funding, Brennan also plans to pay city employees money they had to forego by working four-day weeks over the course of 20 weeks, beginning in June. Brennan announced at the council meeting that the furloughs, that were to carry on until Oct. 31, were ending earlier than planned.

Initially, when faced with a possible $2-million shortfall, the administration and council worked to reduce the city’s spending by about $1 million. The reduction was made, among other things, by putting off this year’s road repair program, instituting the furloughs, and, due to the pandemic, not having to spend money on opening the city’s pools or in programming summer activities.

“While tax revenues remain down from this point last year,” Brennan reported to council, “for everything we have been through, we are down just 1 percent from this time

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University of Bridgeport’s just released 2018-19 finances show a ship in distress

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BRIDGEPORT — The University of Bridgeport spent $8.3 million more than it made in the 2018-19 fiscal year and burned through $8.7 million of its modest endowment, according to a fiscal filing by the university recently made public.

The federal Internal Revenue Service documents released late last month shows that UB ended the fiscal year in June 2019 with a $25.2 million endowment. Two years prior, its endowment was at $37 million, its highest level in decades.

The 2018-19 fiscal year was the first and only full year of former UB President Laura Trombley’s tenure. She left in April, having served 18 months.

Just before her departure, Trombley sent an email to the university community on March 30 saying the university anticipated an operating deficit in the 2019-20 fiscal year of approximately $12.5 million. The filing for that year has not yet been released.

If the expected losses held true, it likely would have cut the university’s $25 million endowment in half.

At the time, Trombley said the loss came despite efforts to renegotiate vendor contracts, reduce the campus footprint and close buildings.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, UB laid off 33 employees and furloughed 93 others, according to Trombley. Other staff took pay cuts.

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“To accomplish our goal of a non-deficit budget by the end of the academic year 2021, we will continue to decrease costs and grow revenues,” Trombley wrote in the March email.

Three days later, Trombley was introduced as the new president of Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.

Acting UB President Stephen Healey, who was provost during Trombley’s tenure, said Friday he was willing to speak about the IRS form, but then reneged to prepare for a Board of Trustees meeting, he said. On Monday, he said he, along with UB’s chief financial officer