Seeking to lower a projected $200,000 deficit, the village’s finance committee will recommend a series of cuts at council’s Tuesday meeting.
Most of the suggested cuts, such as elimination of the leaf pickup program, are in the street department, which the committee said needs $20,000 from the general fund to remain operational this year.
Street Commissioner Russell Beatty said he would wait to hear the committee’s specific recommendations Tuesday before commenting.
The finance committee consists of Councilmen Robert Limmer, David Raspanti and Marc Cossette and village Clerk-Treasurer Linda Srnec.
“We decided to get more austere,” Limmer said.
Cossette originally voted against the 2012 budget, which has a projected $203,523 deficit, because “we made no attempt to balance it before we passed it.”
Raspanti said now seems like a tipping point as council considers a $20,000 expense for a new leaf machine, the upcoming renewal of a 2-mill operations levy and voter rejection of the storm-water utility ordinance last November. The storm-water ordinance had set up a fee of $3.50 per one equivalent residential unit, or every 2,500 square feet, to be used for storm-water projects.
“All department budgets have seen cuts. ... We asked them to cut costs last year, and this year, we only gave them what they used last year. Our employees have had four years of no salary increases,” Raspanti said.
The village has 11 full-time employees, Srnec said.
Srnec said the village has had deficit budgets since 2009. This year, the village is expected to spend $828,521 and bring in $624,998 in revenue.
In spite of that, “the village has always pulled the rabbit out of the hat,” Cossette said.
The deficits weren’t felt immediately because yearly inheritance-tax collections — which were never included in the township’s budget — softened the blow, as did the village’s State Treasury Asset Reserve (STAR) Ohio investment fund. The village deposited mostly inheritance tax into the STAR account. Earlier this year, state lawmakers abolished the inheritance tax beginning in 2013.
The STAR account has about $916,000 in it, down from than $1 million, Srnec said.
If the village finances continue as they are, “it’s inevitable that we use the STAR account for operations” instead of capital improvements, such as replacing a road department truck, she said.
The finance committee also is expected to ask council to consider a replacement or additional levy as a way to generate revenue.
If the village drained the STAR account for operational expenses, had no new revenue sources and no large emergency expenditures, the money would last until 2017, Srnec said.
Committee members, however, said that plan likely would draw criticism from state auditors.
“We want to stay away from fiscal watch and emergency because then the books would be turned over to the state, and they will make all the decisions,” Raspanti said.
Srnec said that when it comes to the STAR account, village officials are trying to make decisions that will benefit residents or council members in the future.
“If we spend it, how would that be responsible of us?” she said.