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2013 Village budget deemed on track

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Halfway through the fiscal year, the Village of Yellow Springs 2013 budget appears to be on target, Village Finance Director Sharon Potter told Village Council at its July 15 meeting during a State of the Budget report.

While there is little context for the budget figures in the half-year report, the presentation is a useful exercise in making sure that Village finances are on course, according to Village Manager Laura Curliss.

“If something weird is going on and we need to make mid-course corrections, it’s good to have this,” she said. And according to Potter, nothing weird is going on with the budget.

There is good news in the General Fund, as revenues overall increased this year over the same time last year by $264,835, or about 19 percent. However, all of that increase was linked to a one-time estate tax payment of $283,475 which the Village collected in the first quarter of 2013. Estate tax revenues are never included in the budgeting process because they can’t be predicted, and this one was unexpected. Also, because state leaders recently did away with the estate tax, the Village will not in the future receive a similar windfall, Potter said.

There was also good news from the Village’s most significant local tax, the Village income tax, which is expected to increase about 10 percent over last year. However, local real estate taxes decreased $9,406, or about 2 percent below last year. All together, local taxes are remaining stable compared to last year, and the taxes represent about 80 percent of total General Fund revenue. Local tax revenue so far this year is $1,191,768.

The 2013 General Fund has a cash balance, or surplus, of $1,381,168, which is about 30 percent of the total budget. Standard budgeting practice is to have a surplus of at least 25 percent of the General Fund, Potter said.

Enterprise funds decrease

The Village Electric Fund shows a net decrease of $370,354 compared to last year, mainly because $423,063 from the fund was used to pay off the Bryan Center bond earlier this year, according to Potter’s report, and about $275,000 of the bond payment will be paid back to the Village by September 2016. The Electric Fund also had about a 10 percent decrease in revenues compared to last year.

The Village water fund receipts were down about 6 percent, or $18,781, compared to the same period last year, while the fund’s expenses increased 17 percent, or $44,034. The water treatment budget saw a 30 percent drop ($24,567) in personnel costs due to the retirement of the treatment plant manager but an increase in contractual services of $48,627, due to replacement of a well pump and expenses linked to the current water sourcing discussion.

Overall, the water fund balance has a net decrease this year to date of $15,035, with $72,500 in capital projects scheduled for this year and $1,971,500 scheduled for 2014, although some of that will be repaid by grants, loans or bond sales.

Overall, the total balance for all funds in the Village budget decreased $158,308.

In other Village business:

• Acting President Lori Askeland expressed her concern about Jimmy Chesire’s recent fall in Ellis Park and asked that staff look into anything the Village could do to make the culvert at the pond safer.

• Council unanimously approved an emergency ordinance that allows a transfer of $44,000 from the General Fund to the Police Pension Fund.

• Council unanimously approved the second reading of a “land swap” with Glen Helen, in which both the Village and the Glen benefit by trading small pieces of land that are more useful to the other entity.

• Council unanimously approved the second reading of an ordinance regarding metering and billing arrangements for small producers of alternative energy.

• Council’s next meeting will be Monday, Aug. 5. On the agenda will be a presentation on the costs of rehabbing the current water plant, part of the ongoing discussion regarding how best to source local water.

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