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Roads, security, visioning head Village capital projects

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The repair of roads and sidewalks, the purchase of security and police equipment and the funding of a visioning process were the most expensive 2009 Village general fund capital projects proposed by Manager Mark Cundiff at a recent budget planning workshop. At the workshop, Cundiff also proposed that this year Council allocate $50,000 to the Village’s greenbelt fund, which is significantly less than the amount two Council members had previously proposed.

The proposals were made at Council’s Feb. 3 workshop, which was the first of three workshops that focus on the 2009 Village budget. The workshop was discussion only, and Council members took no action. Council members will vote on the 2009 budget sometime after they complete the three budget workshops and before April 1, which is the state deadline.

The second workshop, to focus on enterprise funds, will take place on Monday, Feb. 23, at 7:30 p.m., and the last, on the general fund, will take place on Saturday, Feb. 28, at 9:30 a.m. All sessions will be held in rooms A and B of the Bryan Community Center. The public is invited to attend.

During the workshop, Cundiff proposed that Council put $50,000 from the general fund into the greenbelt fund, which would raise that fund to a total amount of $187,000. Council members Judith Hempfling and Lori Askeland had previously requested that at least $100,000 be put into the green space fund this year, in response to a request from the Tecumseh Land Trust. TLT leaders have stated that Jacoby greenbelt properties may come on the market soon, and Council should be prepared to act quickly to preserve green space. The green space fund needs to have about $250,000 in order for Council to purchase properties, TLT leaders said.

While the 2009 budget includes enough revenues to allocate more to the green space fund, doing so would leave the general fund with less than the 25 percent reserve that previous Councils have requested, according to Cundiff. However, according to Village Finance Director Sharon Potter, the 25 percent amount is not Council policy but is only the amount generally discussed as appropriate. Cundiff stated he would research the amount that other communities require as reserve funds.

The 2009 general fund budget calls for $3,263,000 in revenues, with $1,898,223 in expenses, leaving a reserve balance of $1,588,331. This amount compares to the 2008 budget revenues of $3,363,321 and expenses of $1,691,270, with a reserve of $1,648,262.

The most expensive capital project proposed on Feb. 3 was a continuation of a program to improve village roads, at an estimated cost of $350,000 this year. Most of the funding would come from monies raised by the three-year-old property tax levy, which produces about $750,000 in revenues annually, and which continues two more years.

The resurfacing is the continuation of a sustained effort to upgrade village roads, which began with a re-paving program of the worst roads two years ago. The roads to be resurfaced this year are those in less need of repair.

At the Feb. 3 meeting, Council members stated that before they make decisions on this year’s budget, they need to review commitments that the previous Council made regarding the use of levy revenues. Cundiff will research those commitments.

Cundiff also proposed that the Village spend $38,000 repairing Village sidewalks on both sides of Xenia Avenue between Herman and Limestone Streets. The Village Accessibility Committee has requested that these repairs be made as a minimum to promote accessibility between Friends Care Community and downtown, and last year Council expressed its willingness to do so. However, the project was postponed last spring when Council needed instead to focus on the search for a new manager. While Council has also stated that it may assess homeowners for all or part of the sidewalk repair expense, the Village needs to have the necessary amount in its budget, Cundiff stated.

The $50,000 for a visioning/planning process was a holdover from the 2008 budget. The money did not get used last year, but the Visioning Task Force is currently narrowing down several possible visioning/planning firms for possible hiring, and hopes to begin the process in the spring.

Several proposed capital projects included security and police items. The security equipment in the Bryan Center is old and needs replacement, at a cost of $21,800, according to Cundiff, who also suggested a $2,000 security camera for the Train Station in light of recent vandalism. The purchase of new security cameras at the Gaunt Park pool was also recommended, for $2,000.

Police department needs include $28,400 to replace a police cruiser, and $17,000 to replace the department’s three mobile vision units, which are used to record all traffic stops. The monies would come from the general fund, with possible reimbursement from Furtherance of Justice state monies, Cundiff said.

Significant capital projects to be funded by the Village enterprise funds include $2,650,340 for design and construction for upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant, to begin soon in order to bring the plant into compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency. The Village has a state grant of $1.2 million to fund part of the project, and has procured an interest-free state loan for the project’s design, which leaves about $1.2 million, which could be paid for with an interest-free loan, Cundiff said. In an interview this week, Cundiff stated that he will attempt to fund all or part of the project from the recently approved federal economic stimulus monies.

Other capital projects include $62,400 for a project already underway for a new clarifier line at the wastewater treatment plant, to be funded by the sewer fund and $20,000 to replace the vehicle for water treatment plant supervisor Troy Slone. Projects also include $16,000 for an infrared screening device for the water and wastewater treatment plants, to help with energy conservation, according to Cundiff.

About $100,000 will be used for improvements and design of the Center for Business and Education. Those monies would be covered by a federal and a state grant.

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