By DAVID GREEN
With projected revenues running lower than expected and the prospect of reductions in state support, Fayette village council members developed a list of proposed cuts to trim about $43,000 from the budget.
If council members accept the proposal at the Dec. 23 meeting—rescheduled from the regular Thursday date—residents will no longer have leaf and brush pickup, and police coverage will be reduced.
“Everybody is on board in recognizing that we’re in bad economic times,” mayor Anita Van Zile said. “We don’t know what lies ahead, but it’s likely that things will get worse.”
The proposed savings will cover the current shortfall developing due to a reduction in withholding tax revenue, she said, and will give the village additional funds to carry into the new year.
Income tax revenue continues to run about $23,500 below the projected level for the current year.
Council members agreed to take a 50 percent reduction in their salary—from $40 a meeting down to $20—for a savings of $3,000. Similarly, the mayor’s pay would be cut by 80 percent for a savings of $2,000.
Eliminating leaf and brush collection would trim $11,240 from the budget and council aims to save an additional $5,000 by eliminating overtime hours for village workers.
Mayor Van Zile isn’t sure how that might work in light of unexpected emergencies such as the need to clear roads after a heavy snow. The welfare of taxpayers needs to be addressed, she said.
Council members have discussed the possibility of using compensatory time to balance out workers’ hours. They’re also exploring the use of private contractors for certain services such as water main breaks.
Dee Ferguson’s job as records clerk—plying through old village records in an effort to update old information following the death of Phil McKinney—will be cut from two days a week to one.
That isn’t exactly a savings, Van Zile said, since the work needs to be done eventually, but it will improve the village’s cash flow.
Village hall employees will clean the facility themselves rather than hire someone to do the work, and fewer part-time police officers will be used.
Finally, council proposes to cut the amount of salt used in water softening by one-half to save $2,500.
On the revenue side, council proposes to charge the sewer and water enhancement fee on every unit of a multi-dwelling structure. Currently, the fee is charged only to an apartment building rather than to each unit within the building. That change would bring in an additional $5,400 to the water and sewer fund.
“We’re trying to be fiscally responsible and save where we can,” Van Zile.
PLOWING—Council took action to cancel all contracts, both written and verbal, for the removal of snow from private property. One contract dated from the 1970s.
The move will cut back on hours and salt use, and allow someone else in town to earn some money by providing the service.
Examples include the post office parking lot and the village green parking lot.
INSURANCE—Council learned the village will save $3,500 in insurance costs in the next year through various changes, including the closure of the pool and selling the Reo fire truck.
NYCE DRIVE—Council heard the first reading of a proposal to change the name of Railroad Street to Nyce Drive. The change would take effect Jan. 1, 2010, said village administrator Amy Metz, and next year both the old and new names would be posted on street signs.
VALUES—Council learned that a notice from county auditor Nancy Yackee pointed out that property values have decreased about $2 million in the village since the last valuation was done.
OHIO EPA—Three Fayette representatives joined those from other parts of the county to discuss issues with an aide to Sen. George Voinovich. One of the main topics was the Ohio EPA.
Councilor Jerry Gonzales said a statement was made by one of the people in attendance that the EPA tends to focus almost entirely on environmental concerns, ignoring the social and economic factors of issues, as it is also charged to do.
Small communities don’t have the funds to comply with regulations, Gonzales said, and he suggested a large reduction in the EPA budget to reduce the agency’s reach.
Metz added that concern was expressed about the likelihood of changes in mandates with the new administration soon coming into office.
There’s a reluctance to spend money on the long term control plan for sewage treatment knowing that regulations might change before the project is completed.
“We need good policy that we can adhere to,” she said.
Gonzales suggested that communities should be allowed to take care of their own problems without outside interference.
CLOSED—Council met in a closed session to discuss possible litigation, but no action was taken.