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Jun
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2024
Village Council

At Village Council's final meeting of the year, on Dec. 19, the group approved the 2023 budget. Present at the meeting were Council members Marianne MacQueen, Gavin DeVore Leonard, Vice President Kevin Stokes and President Brian Housh. Absent was Council member Carmen Brown. (Video still)

Village Council passes 2023 budget

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At its final meeting of 2022 on Dec. 19, Village Council members passed the 2023 budget, which included an additional $40,000 for affordable housing and investments in the Public Works department, including money for additional personnel and wage increases. The ordinance was passed on a 4–0 vote, with Council member Carmen Brown absent from the meeting.

The 2023 budget also includes $64,000 for YSPD to increase salaries, replace bulletproof vests and purchase body-worn cameras. The total appropriations leave a deficit of $2,973,631, which the Village will cover using money from its cash reserves.

After the public hearing for the legislation was opened, Council member Marianne MacQueen moved to add $40,000 to the affordable housing line of the general fund, saying the funds in the account, which were generated through fees on transient guest lodging, would not be sufficient.

“Council has agreed to two goals: infrastructure and affordable housing,” MacQueen said. “If we are going to say affordable housing is a goal, [the present amount] is not enough.”

Council President Brian Housh said he supported adding money for affordable housing, but wanted to make a decision about how the money would be spent.

“We talked about this at our last work session,” Housh said. “Rather than worrying about where we are moving money we should talk about what we are going to do with that money and be intentional.”

Housh also said Council would be shifting their focus from the greenbelt around Yellow Springs to affordable housing, and that the Village manager, finance director and solicitor were making moves to pull money from the greenspace fund to bolster the affordable housing fund.

In addition to deliberating about affordable housing, Council members heard several suggestions and questions from community members, including a petition from 36 village residents who requested the police budget be reduced by 10%.

Kathryn LeVesconte and Tanya Maus asked why Council members were increasing the police budget in light of a budget deficit. The police budget represents 38% of the Village’s overall yearly budget.

“We are all having to deal with less,” Maus said. “Thirty-eight percent of the budget is too much.”

John Hempfling said he would be in favor of using Greene County dispatch in order to save money. Village Manager Josué Salmerón said local dispatch was necessary due to the types of calls they receive.

In response to LeVesconte, Maus, Hempfling and a question from the News for specific services the local police and dispatch provided that would not be provided by County dispatch, Housh and Village Clerk Judy Kintner told the residents they should watch the videos of the budget and police work sessions found on the Village’s YouTube channel.

“I highly recommend you watch those and then bring the questions you have,” Kintner said, attempting to move past citizen questions and comments.

Salmerón said dispatch was also responsible for fielding calls from Villagers who need services but do not know who to call, citing a call about bats in a resident’s home.

Council member Kevin Stokes said he was comfortable with the increase to the police budget.

“I think the increase in the police budget is quite modest,” Stokes said.

MacQueen said she was aware of the increase in the police budget, which she said started in the early 2000s. She also said Council needed to be sensitive to the people who would be affected by the budget cuts and that discussion of budget reduction should come at a different time.

“When we started working on the [2023] budget was not the time to start cutting things,” she said.

Council member Gavin DeVore Leonard said he was comfortable with the cost of living increase for members of the police department, but he wanted to look at the police department budget more closely in 2023.

In other Council business, Dec. 19:

Citizens concerns

Several residents from apartments located at Lawson place appealed to Council on behalf of tenants whose leases have not been renewed by the Village. One speaker and affected tenant, Charles Garen, accused the Village of misleading residents by labeling the units as “affordable housing” and raising rents. Teresa “Misty” Gill asked Council to consider the timing of the date tenants were to vacate the residence, saying that tenants who have both physical and mental disabilities were given until the end of December to leave Lawson Place.

Village Manager Josué Salmerón responded, saying there were “two sides” to the story and the tenants were given 60 days notice of the lease nonrenewal.

Additional coverage on the Village’s Lawson Place apartments will appear in a future issue of the News.

Legislation

• Council passed another fourth quarter supplemental budget for a total of $44,675. The money will be spent to cover costs for a YSPD therapy dog, plan reviews conducted by the planning and zoning department, distribution of fines collected through Mayor’s Court and adjustments to the Utility Round Up fund.

• Council passed three resolutions allowing the village manager, Public Works director and planning and zoning director to roll over unused vacation hours to 2023 and two resolutions that allow the village manager and Public Works director to receive a payout for vacation hours  they were unable to use or roll over to 2023. 

• Council passed a resolution adjusting the number of vacation hours the police chief could roll over, increasing the hours from 40 to 80.

• Council passed a resolution approving a “Then and Now” statement for audit services from Julian & Grube totaling $4,200. The “Then and Now” statement affirms that the money paid out was available at the time of purchase and at the time of payment.

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