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From the Print

Enterprise funds look healthy

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Expected revenues in 2018 for Village enterprise funds — electricity, water, sewer and solid waste — are more robust than they have been in years, according to Village Assistant Manager/Finance Director Melissa Dodd at the Oct. 2 Village Council meeting.

The topic was discussion only. It followed Council’s discussion at its last meeting on the 2018 general fund, which covers most expenses other than enterprise funds, such as police, streets and parks. Council will vote on the 2018 budget at its Nov. 20 meeting.

Enterprise funds are self-sustaining, in that they are intended to be funded solely through utility fees, without help from the general fund.

The enterprise budgets are healthy largely as a result of last year’s rate hikes for electricity, water and sewer, according to Dodd.

“All of the enterprise funds didn’t have enough to operate until the rate hikes,” Dodd said in her presentation to Council.

In 2016 a rate hike for water of 30 percent annually for three years, leading to an overall increase of almost 100 percent, was approved, as was a four-year annual rate hike for sewer of 15 percent, culminating in an overall hike of about 60 percent. Electric rates also went up about 13 percent for residential users.

Other factors have also contributed to the health of the enterprise funds, Dodd said in an email this week.

“The rate increases coupled with much more conservative spending and less equipment purchases and paying off some of the debt from equipment leases and other loans have all contributed,” she wrote. “Overall we are finally able to take a more proactive approach versus a reactive approach.”

In the electric fund, 2018 revenues are expected to come in at $3,714,000, with expenses at $3,674,723. Two years ago, electric fund revenues were $3,138,434 and expenses were $3,756,225, creating deficit spending of $617,791.

The electric fund budget has a surplus of $2,330,412 this year and that is expected to rise to $2,369,689 next year. The recommended electric fund surplus is $1,252,075, according to the budget documents.

The water fund revenues are projected next year to be $1,223,677 and expenses at $897,386, with revenue over expenses of $326,291. The end of year surplus in the water fund will be $960,807, with a recommended surplus of $237,804.

In the 2018 sewer fund, revenues are expected to come in at $1,110,541, with expenses at $894,129, a difference of $216,412. The sewer fund surplus will be $878,898, and the recommended surplus amount is $241,664.

Solid waste fund revenues in 2018 are projected to be $272,600, with expenses of $270,300, a difference of $2,300. The solid waste fund balance is $60,773.

The total revenue for enterprise funds in 2018 is anticipated to be $6,320,818, with expenses expected to be $5,736,538, with a total revenue over expenses of $584,281.

Because some of the funds have been in deficit spending in recent years, the funds haven’t set aside money annually for capital projects, Dodd said. However, given the healthy status of the funds next year, she recommended to Council that $100,000 from the electric fund be diverted to capital projects, plus $50,000 from the water fund and from the sewer fund.

Dodd also presented capital projects requested by department leaders for the electric and street and police departments in 2018.

In the electric department, $75,000 was requested for next year for pole replacement. From the sewer department $15,300 was requested for the Village portion of an Ohio Public Works Commission grant project for the Winter Street sewer.

In the police department, Chief Brian Carlson is requesting $45,000 for a remodel of the dispatch office, $15,000 for replacement of the dispatch console and $8,000 for new computers.

In response to Judith Hempfling, who questioned the need for remodeling the dispatch office, Carlson said the front of the office needs re-configuring because it’s currently possible for visitors to the office to view confidential information from the police computers, which is out of compliance with standards from the Ohio Collaborative. However, he said he will revisit the estimate for remodeling and return to Council at a later time.

In other Council Oct. 2 business:
• Council unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance that limits the places people can smoke on Village-owned property. The move followed a previous presentation by villager Shernaz Reporter, who works for the Greene County Combined Health District, which is encouraging municipalities to restrict areas where smoking is allowed. Following her presentation, Council had asked Village Manager Patti Bates to move forward on the issue.

“Tobacco kills more people than heroin and car accidents combined,” Reporter said to Council members at the Oct. 2 meeting, thanking them for their efforts.

According to Manager Bates, Village staff will create designated smoking areas within Village-owned property that are away from doors and the toddler playground.

• Council passed the first readings of several ordinances that will increase tap-in fees for Village utilities to newly constructed homes in the village. Staff had compared current fees to those of surrounding and comparable communities, and the new fees are in the middle range of what other towns charge, Bates said.

• Council heard a presentation from Mark Lindsay of Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission on the value of having a Complete Streets policy in Yellow Springs. Complete Streets is a nationwide effort that encourages municipalities to plan streets in ways that include safe travel for walkers and bikers as well as motor vehicles.

Chris Bongorno of the Active Transportation committee stated his support for having a Complete Streets policy. While the Village has already been proactive in looking at ways to enhance walking and biking in the village, Bongorno said, “We could set the bar higher.”
Council vice-president Brian Housh will write a draft Complete Streets policy for a future discussion with Council.

• Council heard from Arts Council member Nancy Mellon regarding that group’s desire to move its permanent collection from the Antioch University Midwest building to the John Bryan Center. Because the AUM building is now up for sale, the group believes it’s wise to find a new location.
About 180 pieces are included in the collection, according to Mellon, who said that the art work “tells the stories of who we are and what we care about.”

Council members expressed approval for the move, and will continue discussion at a later date.
• Council’s next regular meeting is Monday, Oct. 16, at 7 p.m. in Council chambers at John Bryan Center.

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Enterprise funds look healthy

by Diane Chiddister