Sunday, November 6, 2011

Wellsville Council's Finance Committee Considers 2012 Budget Cuts

Friday – November 4: Wellsville Council's Finance Committee met this past Friday with Village Fiscal Officer Dale Davis to go over the projected 2012 Village Budget. Present at the meeting was Committee Chairman Tony Cataldo, Committee Members Joe Soldano and John McMahon. Also attending was Councilwoman Susan Haugh, Village Administrator Jim Saracco and Zoning Administrator Rick Williams.

Cataldo reported that projected fund balances at the end of October will have $4,294 in the General Fund, $2,078 in the Street Fund, $2,300 in the State Highway Fund and $4,560 in the Cemetery Fund. Total of all funds is $339,311 as October 31. Davis advised these figures are not exact. His department is still in the process of balancing all accounts for the month of October, which is normal for so soon after the close of a month. Cataldo added that at the end of September the total of all funds was $402,479. The biggest expenses for October was for the operation of the Sewage Treatment Plant and payment to the contractor that is installing the new sewage digesters. With all levy monies in for the year Cataldo concluded the amounts are “bad figures for this time of the year”.

Looking to the budget for next year it was reported that it will be necessary to cut approximately $70,000 in 2012's budget. With money being spent on the various projects investment funds are nearly $150,000 less as of July 31 of this year than they were in 2010. Interest rates on investments are extremely low. Another loss in revenue will the the Local Government Funds (LGF) received. The Village received $79,575 LGF in 2010. It is projected to be $74,426 for 2011, reduced to $47,446 in 2012 and to $37,213 in 2013. Income tax revenue seems to on the decline also.

Also of major concern for the committee is the cost of employee health insurance when it comes due for renewal in March 2012. The US DOJ COPS grant expires at the end of next June. At that time the Village has to finance the fourth year per the agreement.

Wellsville Village employees currently do not have to pay for their health insurance. It is a free benefit for them. One suggestion that the Fiscal Officer proposed at a meeting this past September was to have the employees pay a share of their health insurance costs to help off set the ever increasing cost of health insurance. However, that may be a mute point if State Issue 2 is approved on the ballot next Tuesday. One of the stipulations of Senate Bill 5 is to have public employees pay a minimum of 15% of their health insurance costs. It is estimated that 15% would amount to over $38,000 in savings to the Village. To date no recommendations have been made by the Finance Committee.

Councilwoman Haugh asked Davis “As the Fiscal Officer do you see making any cuts without getting rid of employees?” Davis responded by reminding the Finance Committee members of his suggestons he put in writing to them back in September. In addition to the employee health insurance contributions he recommended eliminating named holidays and changing them to personal days off. Presently if an employee is required to work on a name holiday they are paid double time and half for working that day. By changing them to personal days employees would still receive 11 extra days off but holidays would be just another scheduled work day without the extra holiday cost bonuses.

Davis concluded that there is still some “belt tightening” that can be done without considering lay-offs noting that everyone has to share in the cost savings measures.

Cataldo adjourned the meeting asking that ways to come up with budget cuts be considered. There has to be a balanced budget proposed for 2012. Another meeting will be schedule at a later date.

ole nib


Anonymous said...

Free health insurance to employees in this day and age is almost unheard of because of the high cost. If Issue 2 does pass, although I feel it will be defeated, council really needs to look at having village employees contribute to their health care plans.

old sarge said...

Ole Nib,

Since you cover all of the council meetings, I have a question.

Would it be possible for you to obtain/list a copy of all of the different sources of income that the village receives in a year as well as a listing of where it all goes and post it on your site? Something like a balance sheet.

It seems to me that as taxpayers, we should be entitled to view this information, and I have always wondered why the local newspapers don't publish this for everyone to see as well. It might go a long way towrds explaining why certain projects get done in the village as well as why others do not.

You always hear in TV commercials about the proceeds from the state lottery benefitting schools and senior citizens, yet you never read anything about just exactly how much each city or town gets. This sort of runs along the same lines.

What prompted this train of thought was that while driving up and down Route 11 this past year, I wondered why all of the road signs were being replaced with brand new ones as well as the posts to hold them up, about five feet in front of the old ones. This surely had to be a costly project. To tell the truth, I never saw anything wrong with the old ones: missing letters, hard to read, bad support posts, etc., so I contacted the county to find out more.

It seems that they were replaced with something more readily visible at night. This might've been okay if there was a surplus of funds and our roads and East Liverpool's didn't look like something out of a war zone. I stated as much to the person I spoke with. It should've been a no-brainer that that money could've been better spent on paving that would make everyone's life here better; maybe helping to jump start the local economy, as well as reducing damage and repair expenses to our automobiles.

Just out of curiosity, I asked how much Wellsville received annually out of the gasoline taxes the government collects every time we fill up our cars. $100,000 per year was what I was told. Now I know patching potholes isn't cheap, but just exactly how much did we spend? And I know road salt for the winter months isn't cheap either. I actually feel worse for our two village workers who did a fantastic job patching about a million holes this year, when much of their work is probably going to be undone when plowing starts again this winter. None of that money obviously went to fixing or staffing our street sweeper. Is it possible to use that $100,000 as our part of matching funds toward a paving project. I know we had something on the schedule about paving a couple of streets this past year, but none of it was done. There are some alleyways in Salem and Columbiana that are in better shape than our main roads. Once again going back to my previous notion in another blog about our "piece" of the pie instead of just the crumbs.

I think this blogsite is a great idea and I hope village council and the mayor use it with regularity in the future, to see what citizens are feeling about various issues. Many times there are those of us who can't make it to the council meetings due to work schedules or family issues, and this can be our way of making our voices heard. I would like to see all of us in the village using it. It's just one more example of thinking outside the box to get a job done in keeping with the ever-changing times. Keep up the good work, Nib.

************* said...

We too wondered about the new signage on both Route 11 and Route 7, especially in light of the fact that they were having problems in Columbus balancing the budget.

Wellsville, like any other municipality or responsible business, operates on a budget. It's a matter of public record. Our Village officials are presently working on the 2012 budget. It has to be a balanced budget and, we believe, submitted to the County Auditor before the end of the year.

The budget is broken down into different funds. An updated budget will show receipts, expenditures and a balance for each fund.