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A look at the 2017 projected Village budget

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At Village Council’s Oct. 3 meeting, Council members heard an overview of the 2017 Village budgets for enterprise, capital and special revenue funds. These funds are distinct from the general fund, which is the main Village budget, discussed at Council’s previous meeting.

Enterprise funds are the Village’s four utility funds, for electric, water, sewer and solid waste. Capital budgets refer to capital expenses, such as equipment purchases and facilities improvements. And special revenue funds are designated for services and amenities such as streets, parks and greenspace.

In contrast to previous years, the Village’s enterprise funds are projected to be in the black for 2017, with greater revenues than expenses, largely due to a series of utility rate increases that went into effect in July. Village leaders have said they approved rate hikes due to ongoing deficit spending.

Spending in 2017

The electric, water and sewer funds all have healthy reserves above recommended minimums. The electric fund, for example, has $2.1 million in reserves, significantly higher than the recommended minimum of $1.48 million (about four months of operating expenses).

Electric expenses are forecast lower in 2017, in part because the Village is now projecting its power costs rather than relying on AMP estimates, which tended to be high, Assistant Village Manager/Finance Director Melissa Vanzant said at the Oct. 3 meeting.

The water fund will see major expenses in the next few years, as the Village begins to make loan payments on Yellow Springs’ new water plant. Construction on the plant, which is taking place through a design/build process with a guaranteed maximum price of $7.2 million, began Oct. 1 and is slated to be finished in early 2018.

Water fund reserves are expected to be at $483,814 in 2017, above recommended minimums. “We are trying to bring reserves up” before the first water plant construction payments hit in 2018, Vanzant said.

A major expense in 2017 related to the new water plant will be $700,000 for new remote-read water meters, some of which have already been installed. The meters will be financed rather than taken out of the water fund directly, according to Vanzant.

Overall, with several major projects already completed, including downtown streetscape and two water distribution projects (the recent loop completion and bottleneck projects), the Village’s capital spending is expected to be relatively modest in 2017, at $1.1 million.

One notable capital expense next year is the rebuilding of the Sutton Farm crew quarters, which are in a state of serious disrepair, Vanzant said. The cost of rebuilding the quarters (which house Village equipment and break areas for Village crew) is estimated at $250,000. Money for that project could come from the Village’s general fund or from the proceeds of the Village’s sale of a major parcel of Sutton Farm land to Glen Helen, expected to close early next year.

Other capital items for 2017 include new power poles and an infrared camera, a new police cruiser and new library handrails.

Some of the funds for these items come from the Village’s revived capital improvement funds. These funds were inactive for many years, but are receiving $137,500 in 2017 for both current projects and future needs.

Spending on streets and parks is projected to be lower in 2017, largely because the Village has been able to trim expenses and has several major capital projects behind it, according to Vanzant.

Streets spending is budgeted significantly lower, at $557,191 for 2017. Parks and recreation spending is slightly lower at $360,207. The Village has saved some money in cost efficiencies, Vanzant said, including bringing management of the Gaunt Park pool back to the Village after outsourcing it to Dayton Pool Management.

Notably, only $5,000 has been earmarked for the greenspace fund in this budget overview, down from $25,000 last year. The greenspace fund as a whole has just under $200,000.

“Five thousand is inadequate,” Council member Judith Hempfling stated at the Oct. 3 meeting. Vanzant replied that the amount was an initial figure, which would be subject to Council revision at the upcoming budget workshop.

The economic development fund, which includes all economic development monies, including the revolving loan fund, is currently inactive but has a balance of  $121,550.

Council will continue with a budget workshop at its Oct. 17 meeting, and will hear a first reading of the 2017 budget as an emergency ordinance on Nov. 7.

In other Oct. 3 Council business:

• Council voted 5–0 to accept the first reading of two ordinances approving the Village to vacate one alley off of West Center College Street and another alley off of West Limestone. While Council approved the two vacation requests, made by local property owners, Council member Hempfling expressed a desire to preserve Village control of Yellow Springs’ alleys, which provide green space as well as alternate paths for walkers and bikers, she noted.

“I have a strong feeling to not have us vacating alleys,” Hempfling said, calling alleys “a great asset to the village.”

Council member Marianne MacQueen stated that she would like to see the planning commission look at the whole alley system in the village, and identify “priority alleys” that the Village would like to save.

“We need to look at a whole plan,” Council President Karen Wintrow concurred.

• Council agreed to a proposal from Village Manager Patti Bates to move the new bike corral installed on Short Street last month to the yellow-curbed area in front of Unfinished Creations on Xenia Avenue, restoring the Short Street parking space. The project is the result of a proposal brought to Council by the Yellow Springs Active Transportation Committee in May.

“A prominently placed bike corral says something about our culture,” committee member Eric Oberg said at Council’s Oct. 3 meeting, thanking Council for its swift action on the issue.

• Council voted 5–0 to accept the first reading of an ordinance approving the placement of a stop sign at the intersection of High and Whiteman streets.

• Council voted 5–0 to accept a resolution authorizing Village staff to submit a grant to the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, or MVRPC, for the upgrade of 63 existing village sidewalks with ADA-compliant ramps and domes to create a “pedestrian loop” including portions of Xenia Avenue, Dayton Street and West South College Street. If awarded, the funds would not be received until 2022, and would require a 25 percent local match for construction, about $33,750. Referring to the long timeline, Assistant Village Manager Vanzant said the grant would not preclude the Village seeking other funding opportunities for smaller projects in the meantime.

• The Village was recently awarded $7,500 from the Yellow Springs Community Foundation toward a fiber needs assessment and business plan, to be conducted by firm DesignNine Broadband Planners at a total cost of $48,500.

• Village Manager Bates announced that Electric Superintendent Johnnie Burns recently received AMP’s most prestigious award, the Seven Hats Award, which goes to the manager of a small municipal electric utility.

Council’s next meeting will be held on Monday, Oct. 17, at 7 p.m. in Council chambers.

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