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Village Council approves deficit budget

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The Village of Yellow Springs will spend about $200,000 more than in takes in receipts in 2014, according to an operations budget Council unanimously passed at its meeting on Monday, March 17.

Council approved its annual budget 4–0 at the resolution’s second and final reading. Council member Lori Askeland was absent.

For its fiscal year 2014, Council budgeted $2.9 million in expenses, higher than anticipated revenue of $2.7 million. The shortfall will be covered by a general fund balance that currently stands at around $2.1 million.

Though Council’s 2014 budget came in almost $290,000 lower than last year’s total expenses, projected revenue for 2014 is down about $450,000 from 2013. The total Village budget approved, including utility funds, is $8,468,021.

Last year the village spent about $50,000 more than it took in, only the second spending deficit since 2005. Council member Marianne MacQueen said that if the Village continues to experience flat revenues and increasing expenses, some Village services may need to be cut.

“Council and the village as a whole will need to examine the kind of services that we have — the police, the parks — and prioritize [them],” MacQueen said. “Because we might not be able to pay for some of the things we had in the past.”

Council President Karen Wintrow said that the deficit means the Village is “eating into its fund balance” and since a village property tax levy — first passed in 2006 and re-upped in 2011 — won’t add any new money to village coffers, new revenue sources are needed to pay for Village services. Some ideas include a new local lodging tax, lobbying for a share of local sales tax now going to state and county coffers and local economic development.

“More jobs means more income tax, so that’s another opportunity,” Wintrow said.
In recent weeks, Council reduced an initial projected budget deficit of $470,000 in part by cutting a Yellow Springs Police Department request for an additional full-time officer and removing an annual appropriation of $50,000 slated for the green space fund (a practice Council started in 2011). Council member Brian Housh said that green space funding and police staffing will be revisited in April, when Council reviews its capital budget.

“I am willing to pass this tonight, but I want to let citizens to know we will be revisiting this,” Housh said.

The budget passed on Monday by Council does include a $100,000 expenditure from the green space fund to the general fund to help purchase an easement for the Glen Helen Nature Preserve, but Village Finance Director Melissa Vanzant said that is not new money — it is money previously committed.

Vanzant clarified that the operating budget does not include capital expenses, which will be discussed at Council’s April 7 meeting.

“This is paying people, fueling trucks, buying office supplies. It’s general operating costs, nothing extra,” Vanzant explained.

However, $175,000 was slated for street repaving in the operating budget. Streets to be repaved (or chip sealed) this year include those on the south side of town (Woodrow Street, Spillan Road, Edgefield Drive, Miami Drive, Lisa Lane, Brookside Drive, Southgate Avenue and Shawnee Drive) and in the Fair Acres neighborhood on the north end of the village (Northwood Drive, Gardendale Drive and Whitehall Drive).

Other council news will be included in next week’s paper.


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