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Village Council | Surplus expected for 2024 Village budget

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About $1.9 million for the Yellow Springs Police Department and public safety. Over $250,000 for affordable housing. Nearly $800,000 for street maintenance and repair. An even $40,000 for economic development and over $683,000 going toward the parks and recreation fund.

These are among the litany of expenses that comprise the Village’s proposed 2024 budget, which Village Council members reviewed at the group’s most recent regular meeting, Monday, Nov. 7.

As noted in Monday’s meeting, the budgeted expenses for next year total $17,852,817 — an amount that includes expenses from the general, special revenue, capital project and enterprise funds.

The Village’s revenue projected for 2024 amounts to $15,657,962, which means that the proposed budget includes a loss of $2,194,855.

Village Finance Director and primary architect of the budget Amy Kemper told Council, however, that the budgeted loss may turn into a surplus — if the last several years provide any indication.

“We budget for losses, but in the past, we’ve managed to wind up with surpluses or break even,” Kemper said. “We want to be conservative with revenue numbers, which means we’re going to under budget them — something that allows us to be flexible and efficient with Village money.”

To Kemper’s point, the 2021 budget included a projected loss of $952,606, but by the end of the fiscal year, the Village had a year’s surplus of $301,475; in 2022 and 2023, the Village budgeted for losses of $1,045,561 and $2,973,631, but each year had surplusses of $900,213 and $502,011, respectively.

“Those surpluses are adding to our cash balance every year,” Kemper said. “It’s a good thing to have big chunks of money available for big projects.”

Also contributing to the growing amount of reserves for 2024 is a “carryover” cash balance of $11 million that Kemper expects to have in local coffers by the end of 2023.

A memo Kemper provided Council members before Monday’s meeting notes that the conservative estimates for revenue and overestimated expenses provides “more efficiency” in operations insofar as the Village may not need to approach Council as often to approve supplemental appropriations for unexpected expenses.

The memo also notes that both the budgeted revenues and expenses for 2024 have increased from 2023. Revenues are up due to increases in electric, water and consumer fees, as well as an increase in income tax of $150,000.

Expenses are projected to rise because of increased personnel services, project expenses associated with the impending village manager search, a Village website update, strategic planning, a planned review for a paid parking plan and a basic income research project.

Additionally, the ongoing pushes for more affordable housing, improving local infrastructure, investing more in local economic development, and expanding the reach of the municipal broadband projects also contributed to 2024’s expenses.

The process for drafting the 2024 budget began earlier this year when Kemper and staff weighed this and past years’ revenue against annual expenses. Then, in October, the Village finance committee reviewed the draft. After that process, Council members and staff held two special work sessions to modify the proposed budget and add any expenses based on desired projects Council members wish to accomplish in 2024.

Council member Gavin DeVore Leonard said at Monday’s meeting that he’s pleased with the months-long, collaborative process of drafting the 2024 budget.

“Generally, I’m feeling pretty good about where we’re at in terms of figuring out how to budget effectively and communicate about it together,” he said.

Council member Brian Housh shared his colleague’s optimism.

“What the Village is doing is we’re investing current taxpayer dollars in important projects, while at the same time, meeting the standards set by the state for having a healthy general fund,” Housh said. “We’re unlike the state and county, which both like to keep money in rainy day funds and not invest in critical infrastructure.”

Council will hold a public hearing and give a second reading to the 2024 budget ordinance at the group’s next meeting on Monday, Nov. 20. 

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