about Village finances
Its time to talk.
What we have to discuss is, admittedly, about as exciting as wood, but
its still important. And it affects everyone who lives or works
in Yellow Springs.
Its time to talk about the Villages financial situation. Like
we said, not too exciting, but still important. In fact, the state of
the Villages fiscal house certainly will be one of the most important
local issues of the year.
Heres a basic assessment: the Village, for at least the third year
in a row, has a tight budget; operational costs are expected to rise over
the next several years; the Village has a serious need to find new revenue
sources, especially since Vernay Laboratories, one of the largest utilities
users and employers in town, will shut down one of its manufacturing plants
this year (the second plant will eventually close, too); the Village has
a mountain of capital needs, which include vital projects like paving
the streets, repairing the public pool and replacing water and sewer lines
around town. The list of capital items goes on and on, adding up to approximately
$11.7 million. Like we said, its a mountain of a list.
Now Village Council is set to dig in and evaluate the services the Village
provides and discuss how the Village can continue to pay for them. Though
this effort really started in recent years, when Village staff and Council
began closely reviewing operational costs and revenue sources, Council
will give it even more attention. Two documents will receive a lot of
scrutiny: the 2003 Village budget, which Council will likely approve on
Feb. 18, and a report by the blue ribbon finance committee, which spent
four months reviewing the Village services, capital needs and revenue
What Council plans to do is pick apart the finance committees report,
which includes a number of options the Village has to either increase
revenue or cut costs. The report is significant because it lists many
items that are important to the community that could be eliminated. These
include Gaunt Park Pool, channel 13, the Village Mediation Program and
the Police Departments dispatching service. The report says the
Village could increase recreation fees or utility rates to generate more
revenue. It also says the Village could consider selling its utility services
or reducing some local garbage services. This is just a small accounting
of the report. To get a fuller picture, read it, as well as the 2003 Village
budget, which are available on the Villages Web site at www.yso.com/budget03.asp.
A challenge for Council will be to engage the public in the coming debate
and allow for maximum participation. The public, however, needs to get
involved. The problem is budget issues and Village finances are not likely
to generate passionate interest from most community members. Nevertheless,
because local services affect local residents, this really is a community-wide
As a member of the blue ribbon finance committee said, the Village is
not in a crisis today. But that mountain of capital needs is real. The
big question is, how to pay for them. Answering that question through
a broad-based discussion is in the best interest of the Village and Yellow
Thats why we need to talk.