Yellow Springs spends over income
- Published: October 23, 2014
On Oct. 6 Village Council began its annual series of budget planning workshops with a sober look at the second year of deficit spending in the general fund. With expenditures rising and revenues remaining relatively flat, the Village is expected to continue dipping into reserve funds to balance its budget through fiscal year 2015.
“It concerns me because if we continue to carve into the general fund with expenditures going up and revenues relatively steady …” Village Finance Director Melissa Vanzant said after the meeting. “I want everybody to be very cautious.”
The general fund had a healthy year in 2012, when total expenditures came in at $2.32 million, about $400,000 under revenues. But starting in 2013, the General Fund began running over revenue by $59,000, and is projected to continue deficit spending of $320,000 for 2014 and $305,000 for 2015. Though the Village currently has a sizable cash reserve of $2.05 million to cover the deficits, that fund is projected to be spent down to about $1.43 million by the end of 2015.
Since 2012, general fund expenses have grown by about $800,000. Overall revenues have not kept pace, but income taxes have come in higher over the last two years than projected in earlier budgets. In 2013, income tax revenues projected at about $2.1 million came in $200,000 higher, and projected 2014 revenues show an increase of almost $400,000 over previous projections. Income tax revenues are mainly those collected from local businesses.
A large portion of the increase in spending is for capital projects such as street repair and spending on village parks. A smaller increase can be attributed to the Village’s plan to hire more personnel, such as an assistant Village manager, a Village planner and an additional full-time police officer, as well as a doubling of Village Council’s contracted services from $70,000 in 2012 to $191,000 in 2014.
During Council’s regular meeting last week following the budget workshop, Council considered ways to fund the replacement of the Yellow Springs Library roof, whose construction bid came in almost 60 percent over budget. The library project competes with other capital projects the Village wants to address this year (using money from the general fund), including the renovation of Sutton Farm, the street department’s equipment storage facility.
To replace and add a pitch to the library roof, which is currently flat, the lowest of three bids was $258,577, significantly higher than the $150,000 that was budgeted, and higher than the $204,000 estimate from architect Ted Donnell (who is married to Council member Karen Wintrow). Council members said they did not know how the budgeted amount ended up lower than the architect’s estimate.
According to Vanzant, currently the facilities improvement fund, a line within the general fund budget, has $319,000, of which $150,000 is earmarked for the library, $10,000 for drywall drainage at the library and $50,000 for preliminary work on Sutton Farm, with $109,000 remaining. According to Vanzant, the Village could afford the roof project at the current bid, but it would “drain the facilities improvement fund” and preclude further capital improvements for 2014, including further work on Sutton Farm, she said during the meeting.
“The [library] roof is leaking right now, so the work needs to be done,” Village Manager Patti Bates said during the meeting, adding that the library itself could only contribute $10,000 at the most.
All the budget issues were discussion only. Council agreed to get more information on the roof project from the architect and consider alternatives at a later meeting. Council is also scheduled to continue budget discussions in Council chambers at 6 p.m., an hour before the regularly scheduled meetings this fall. The budget meeting schedule is as follows:
Oct. 20: Enterprise and special revenue funds and capital budget
Nov. 3: Budget workshop
Nov. 17: Entire budget review
Dec. 1: First reading of 2015 budget
Dec. 15: Public hearing and second reading of 2015 budget
Also at a special meeting on Monday, Oct. 27, at 6 p.m., Council will hear presentations from three finalists for the position of Village water plant project consultant.
In other Council business:
• Council approved the Amended Solid Waste Management Plan adopted by the Greene County Solid Waste Management District in September. The plan, an update of the 2008 plan approved by Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, certifies that District waste went to four sanitary landfills and two transfer facilities where many public and private recycling programs and and one composting program were available.
According to the plan, the residential and commercial solid waste generated in 2011 was 159,709 tons, including 22,000 tons of recycled materials and 25,000 tons of composted yard waste (a 30 percent recycling rate, above the state’s goal of 25 percent). The industrial sector generated 19,000 tons of waste, of which 94 percent was recycled, well above the state’s goal of 50 percent.
• Council approved the prohibition of parking in the last block of Hyde Road near the new covered bridge, particularly in front of homes at 1029 Hyde Road, and 1490 and 1475 Corry St. Parking is already prohibited in the last block of Corry Street.
According to observations from neighbors Paul Graham and Sam Young, since the bridge was covered last year, drivers have routinely parked up to the bridge, in front of the bridge, on the bridge and either blocked traffic or caused hazardous conditions for both other drivers as well as pedestrians and bicyclists. Police officer Naomi Penrod corroborated the observations, after Yellow Springs Police sat in unmarked cars one afternoon and witnessed the motorists’ behavior.
• Council approved a one-year contract with Anthem BC/BS for health insurance for Village employees at a 4.4 percent decrease from last year’s rates.
• The Village received $10,739 from the Greene County drug task force and will add the amount to the Police department’s Furtherance of Justice Fund.
• Council met in executive session to discuss real estate issues.