Village Council

Village Council— Budget review shows revenue drop

At Village Council’s Jan. 3 meeting, Council members revisited the 2012 general fund budget and proposed Village capital projects for this year. Overall, the Village anticipates a drop in its general fund of about 25 percent compared to 2011, largely due to cuts in state revenues. The budget also anticipates a 10 percent increase in expenses, which are linked to rising health insurance costs for Village personnel and an increase in contracted services.

These numbers are slightly different from the initial draft of the 2012 general fund budget, which Council reviewed in November. At that time, overall 2012 revenues were projected to be down about 15 percent compared to 2011, rather than 25 percent, and expenses were expected to rise about 3 percent in 2012, rather than 10 percent. The earlier budget draft was necessarily based partly on guesswork, according to Village Manager Mark Cundiff last week, because final 2011 figures were not yet available.

Now that final numbers are available, the greater than expected drop in revenues is linked to the Village’s 2011 estate tax revenues of $271,000, which was higher than expected. Because estate taxes are paid only in the event of death, they are impossible to predict in any given year. And because the Ohio legislature this year eliminated the estate tax, the 2012 Village budget does not include those revenues. Another state revenue stream, the local government fund, has also been cut, although not eliminated entirely, leading to 53 percent drop in state funding to the Village.

The 10 percent increase in Village expenses is linked to the 8.3 percent increase in health insurance for Village employees, according to Finance Director Sharon Potter this week, along with a $62,000, or 13 percent, increase in contractual services. This increase is due partly to Village planning needs, such as the zoning code update, Potter said. The cost of the legal fees of Village Solicitor John Chambers, which was about $118,000 this year, is expected to remain steady this year, according to Potter. The contractual fees for Chambers’ services had increased significantly in 2011 compared to 2010, partly due to an ongoing lawsuit against the Village, Potter said.

Council anticipates continuing its review of the 2012 Village budget at its Jan. 17 meeting, then voting on the budget in February.

Village capital projects have been curtailed this year due to financial constraints, Cundiff said at the Jan. 3 meeting. Overall, there are no general fund capital projects planned in 2012.

Several infrastructure capital projects, however, will be financed by the Village street fund. That fund has $50,000 earmarked in 2012 for the first phase of a village-wide effort for long-awaited sidewalk replacement and repair, to begin on the eastern side of Xenia Avenue between downtown and the Friends Care Community. The street fund also includes $150,000 for repair and maintenance of streets, and $3,500 for the repair of catch basins. The street budget also includes about $150,00 in upgrades to sidewalks and signage as part of the Safe Routes to Schools program. While the SRTS projects need to be included in the Village budget, they will actually be funded by the grant money, and the Village will move ahead only on those projects funded by the grant, Cundiff said.

The 2012 capital project budget does include $28,000 for a new car for the Village police chief, to be financed by Furtherance of Justice funds, which are funds linked to confiscated revenues from the Greene County Ace Task Force drug busts. A plan to purchase an 8-ton dump truck for $120,000 financed by the capital equipment fund has been postponed for several years, with $40,000 set aside in 2012 for the eventual purchase.

There are also no projects planned for the Village parks in the coming year. Proposed upgrades to the skate park and bike path have been postponed, and are now projected to take place in 2013.

Several necessary upgrades to Village-owned facilities are planned for 2012, according to Cundiff, including the replacement of a back-up generator for the Bryan Community Center, for $75,000. About $200,000 in upgrades to the library building are also planned, as the first in a multi-year effort to make the facility more energy-efficient, starting with replacing windows and doors. The library project will be funded by monies set aside for library improvements from the 2006 property tax levy, Cundiff said.

The facilities improvement budget for this year also includes $50,000 for energy upgrades for other Village-owned facilities.

The 2012 capital project budget also includes $8,750 for cable TV upgrades.

Proposed upgrades to Village utility facilities will come out of the individual utility funds, which are separate from the general fund and funded by Village utility fees.

In other Council business:

• Council unanimously adopted a resolution identifying the six overarching goals for Village Council in 2012. These goals are:

1) Deepen decision-making processes with active citizen participation and effective representative governance;

2) Be an excellent employer and provider of services within a responsible fiscal framework;

3) Be a welcoming community of opportunity for people of diverse races, ages, sexual orientations, belief systems, cultures, incomes and abilities;

4) Pursue a strong economy that provides diverse employment, a stable tax base and supports the values of the community;

5) Seek, in all our decisions and actions, to reduce the carbon footprint of the community and encourage sound ecological practices throughout;

6) Provide careful, creative and cooperative stewardship of land resources.

• Council heard the year-end report from the Human Relations Commission, presented by Patti Dallas.

In 2011 the HRC focused on three projects: empowering youth and training youth facilitators; promoting community through participation and conversations; and supporting strong, safe neighborhoods, according to the group’s annual report. Toward its first goal, the HRC sponsored four community-building workshops for all McKinney School and Yellow Springs High School students. The workshops covered listening skills, coalition building, exploring differences and the roots of racism, homophobia, sexism and classism; and values clarification. The group also sponsored an all-school workshop, along with the Department of Justice Community Relations Office, to address the top areas of student concerns identified in a student survey. These areas are bullying, student-led governance and drugs and alcohol. HRC also led eight facilitator training sessions open to any interested students wanting to lead workshops and discussions.

Regarding community building, the HRC, along with the 365 Project, sponsored the Elaine Comegys Black Film Fest at the Little Art, attended by 120 students and 40 adults. To help build strong neighborhoods, the group sponsored annual block parties in August, along with meetings with neighborhood representatives to develop plans for neighbors helping each other during emergencies.

• Council unanimously approved the final reading of the Village temporary operating budget for 2012, to finance Village activities until the official 2012 budget is approved.

• Council approved the final readings of ordinances that reduced the required membership and quorum requirements for the Energy Board and the Environmental Commission, along with the first reading of an ordinance that does the same for the Economic Sustainability Commission. The changes were made to help the commissions conduct their business more efficiently, since there had been difficulties having a sufficient number of people at meetings to take official actions.

• Council’s next meeting will take place Tuesday, Jan. 17, at Council chambers, a day later than usual due to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

 

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