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Drafting the Village budget— Early numbers on target

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The Village of Yellow Springs came to its budget process early this year, and happily too, with most funds coming in close to budget and a sizable cash carry-over to pad the operation. With several more workshops planned for Village Council meetings on Nov. 5 and 23 and Dec. 5, the Village plans to get the coming year’s budget passed by early 2013.

At their meeting on Monday, Oct. 22, the third concerning the budget, Council members reviewed the general fund budget, which is reserved for discretionary spending. Since the Village passed its property tax levy in 2010, the Village has ended each year with revenue well over expenses, including 2012, which is projected to end with $775,000 more than projected expenses of $1.94 million. The trend has allowed the carry-over for the general fund to climb from $1.2 million in 2010 to about $2.4 million this year. The cushion is one Village Manager Laura Curliss feels comfortable with.

“That’s a healthy carry-over, which we’re bringing forward to compound with prior years,” she said at last week’s budget meeting.

General fund

This year’s general fund budget includes $2.7 million in revenue, of which $1.16 million comes from local income taxes and $875,000 comes from local real estate taxes. The budgeted revenue for 2013 is similar at just over $2.6 million. The largest expenses for the general fund include the police department and the road department, neither of which has its own revenue source. The draft 2013 budget accounts for $1.25 million in police expenses, down about $60,000 from last year, even though the Village police department plans to hire several new officers and a full-time dispatch employee, as well as make some new equipment purchases. The general fund budget also accounts for approximately $350,000 for Village administration, up $50,000 from last year due to an increase in health insurance costs. And the funds includes a budget of approximately $250,000 each for Village Council and Village Planning offices. The fund also provides a small budget for the mayor’s office, the library, the local cable station, Human Relations Commission and Village mediation.

Last week Village Council opened its budget review by looking at its capital projects and the state of the enterprise funds, or Village-owned utilities and services.

Capital projects

In capital needs for the coming year, the Village is considering budgeting a total of $2,646,000, about a third of which is slated to come from state grants. The work is largely for the maintenance of streets, buildings and public infrastructure.
As part of a five-year maintenance schedule for Village right-of-ways, the Village plans to spend $656,000 on street projects next year, including repaving and repairing sidewalks and $300,000 of improvements covered by the Safe Routes to School grant through the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Out of the facilities improvement fund the Village plans to use $383,000 for stormwater and HVAC upgrades and solar panels for the John Bryan Community Pottery, the start of library building renovations (including part of a new roof) and the start of improvements to the Village’s equipment storage facility at Sutton Farm. Council will continue to discuss whether the Village, as Curliss suggested during the meeting, needs to build a completely new facility — financed through bonds — to handle its long-term storage needs.

From the electric fund the Village scheduled $275,000 to purchase a new bucket truck and upgrade street lights, poles and traffic signals. The Village also plans to spend $390,000 to loop and replace water lines throughout, as well as paint the water towers and purchase a used dump truck. And $392,000 is planned from the sewer fund for sewer and water line replacements and improvements, some of which are at Fair Acre Drive at the north end of the ­village.

Enterprise funds

The Village’s enterprise funds, those which generate their own revenue, are the one area where, in any given year, costs are exceeding revenue. While each fund has its own healthy reserve line, the trend is not sustainable for the long term, Curliss said. In the electric fund, the Village is expected to finish the year $413,000 over revenues, with $3.5 million in projected expenses. The Village is considering budgeting the same amount for 2013, which would again find expenses about $325,000 over revenue. For now, the Village plans to fund the gap with the electric fund carryover, which is projected to be at $3.24 million into next year.

“[The money] is there, so it’s okay, but you don’t want to continue the trend — you don’t want to use your capital reserve fund to pay for your AMP bill, which is operating expenses,” Curliss told Council, referring to American Municipal Power, the Village’s cooperative electric power supplier.

Curliss suggested restructuring the Village’s electric rates in a way that would cover costs but remain competitive with rates in the region.

The Village water fund showed a somewhat improved picture budget-wise, however Curliss said the water department has “a long list of capital projects but little money to spend on them,” Curliss said. “The water fund is the most stressed fund.”
While the water fund is expected to come in under budget at $528,000 this year, the Village is considering a budget of just over $1 million for 2013, including some maintenance projects the Village hopes will be covered by a grant from the U.S. EPA’s Capacity, Management, Operation, and Maintenance program. The cash carryover for the water fund is at $327,000 this year.

“What I’m most concerned about is sustainability — and we’ve not even begun talking about replacing the water treatment plant,” Curliss said. “We need to talk about how to create an income stream of about $80,000 to $100,000 per year, or we will run short in the water fund.”

Similarly, the Village sewer fund showed projected costs of $908,000 for this year coming in over revenue by about $178,000, which is “eating into the sewer fund reserve,” of about $669,000 for this year, Curliss said. The Village budgeted $1.1 million for next year, which is similarly $442,000 over revenue.

Finally, the Village budgeted $253,000 for the solid waste fund this year and is striking a balanced budget, on track for a similar budget of $225,000 for 2013.

In other Village business:

• Council approved the first reading of an emergency ordinance to release easements the Village holds on three pieces of property located in Glen Helen. The release is needed in order for Antioch College to secure grants for an easement to preserve the entire Glen Helen Nature Preserve as a whole. The Village has held the easements for the properties deep in the Glen for decades for potential need to install a utility or water line, which the Village no longer finds necessary, Curliss said during the meeting.

“Clearly it’s been a goal of villagers to have the Glen permanently preserved, and assisting to help secure funding to make that possible — I think there would be lot of support for that,” Hempfling said.

• Council agreed to authorize the Village manager to enter into a one-year lease in 2013 with Flatter Hereford Farms to raise crops on the 29 acres of tillable land of the Glass Farm. The land will be leased at a rate of $125 per acre.


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