Government

Cuts shrink Village budget

In these difficult economic times, it’s a familiar story for states and municipalities: while revenues are falling, costs are rising. And that’s the story again this year for the Village of Yellow Springs, as Village Council members took an initial look at 2012 Village budget figures at a special meeting on Monday, Nov. 28.

“We’ll be having some important budget discussions this year,” said Council President Judith Hempfling at the meeting. “We have significant budget challenges with the loss of state funding.”

Monday’s meeting was a preliminary discussion only. Council will revisit the budget discussion in early January, then vote on the budget soon after, according to Village Manager Mark Cundiff.

Overall, the 2012 budget for the general fund of the Village — which funds almost all services, excluding utilities — has projected revenues of $2,675,083, compared to 2011 revenues of $3,112,235, a decline of $437,152, or about 14 percent. That change is almost totally linked to state budget cuts to municipalities, according to Village Budget Director Sharon Potter. In 2011, the Village received $556,900 in state funding, and is projected to receive $263,633 in state funds in 2012, a decline of 52.6 percent. The 2011 state funding includes estate tax revenues, which end this year, and Local Government funds, which will continue at a reduced rate in 2012. The 2011 state funding to Yellow Springs was higher than usual due to higher-than-expected estate tax revenues, which cannot be accurately predicted, Potter said. In 2010, Yellow Springs received $400,467 in state funding.

If there is any good news in the 2012 Village budget, it’s that local income and property tax revenues have remained steady. Village income tax revenues for 2011 and projected 2012 revenues are $1,255,000, which is slightly higher than 2010 income tax revenues of $1,252,158. Income tax revenues are projected to remain flat in upcoming years.

The projected flat income tax revenues are a conservative estimate, according to Cundiff, who said there have actually been slight increases that can probably be linked to the rebirth of Antioch College.

“We like to be conservative with projecting revenues,” Cundiff said.

Likewise, Village property tax revenues are projected to remain steady, as they have in recent years. In 2011, the Village is projected to receive $1,005,325 in property tax, compared to $1,000,449 in 2010. In 2012 the Village is expected to receive $1,000,450 in property taxes.

While in 2012 the Village anticipates a 14 percent decline in state funding, it also anticipates approximately a 5 percent increase in personnel costs. Mainly these increases are due to increased health insurance costs for Village employees, Cundiff said in an interview on Tuesday. The Village also paid a higher than expected amount for contractual services in 2011, with $571,246 in anticipated expenses, compared to $425,520 in contractual services paid in 2010. In 2012 the Village is anticipating an expense of $555,461 in contractual services. This increase is partly due to legal fees connected to an ongoing lawsuit brought against the Village by Ken Struewing, according to Cundiff.

Overall, Village general fund expenses are expected to be $2,009,705 in 2012, compared to projected 2011 expenses of $1,953,332. In 2010, Village general fund expenses were $1,830,771.

The ending general fund balance in 2012 is anticipated to be $892,027, down from a 2011 ending balance of $1,144,836.

Village 2012 budget information can be found online at www.yso.com; click on Council meeting of Nov. 28.

Keeping eye on costs

Council also took a preliminary look Monday night at projected Village capital needs, in the light of declining revenues. For instance, Cundiff suggested that the Village will look into the possibility of shared services with nearby municipalities in response to a question from Lori Askeland regarding the proposed purchase of a $120,000 8-ton dump truck for the Village street crew.

“I’d like to know more,” Askeland said. “That’s a lot of money.”

Council members also suggested postponing the use of $50,000 in the 2012 budget earmarked for skatepark upgrades until next year, given that the park has this year seen improvements.

Infrastructure improvements projected for 2012 are those considered absolutely necessary, according to Cundiff, including $50,000 for sidewalk repair for Village sidewalks on the east side of Xenia Avenue from the Friends Care Community to downtown. That project has been on hold for several years, and is the first step toward making Village sidewalks more accessible

The Village anticipates spending $150,000 for maintainance and repair of Village streets, a significantly smaller amount than in recent years. That decline is because the streets are in much better shape now and require less expensive work, Cundiff said.

A proposed 2012 infrastructure upgrade in the Village will be funded by state and federal sources, according to villager Dan Carrigan. That upgrade is the Safe Routes to Schools project, which will involve adding new sidewalks and improving street markings to make travel safer for village children. The project, mainly organized by local volunteers, has been in the works for over a year, and its initial stage, a Travel Plan submitted to the state for approval, was accepted, according to Carrigan. Next, the Village will submit its proposed SRTS projects to the state for approval, and if approved, the state and federal program will fund 100 percent. The Village will only move ahead with projects that the state has agreed to fund, Carrigan said.

The Village also anticipates funding upgrades to the library building, as recently proposed by architect Ted Donnell. Much of the funding for the project will come from 2006 Village property tax revenues that were earmarked for library upgrades. Other proposed Village capital projects for 2012 include a $10,000 Village Web site upgrade, which has been a Council goal for several years.

 

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