February 13, 2003
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  Capital projects
The 2003 Village budget includes more than 15 capital improvement projects, which are funded and implemented outside of the Village’s day-to-day operations, and total an estimated $448,000.
Some of the significant projects planned this year:
• Upgrade computers throughout
the Bryan Center, $18,000
• Purchase a police car, $23,000
• Replace a truck, which provides snowplowing, $65,000
• Improve drainage at seven locations, $38,450 total
• Paint the Gaunt pool surface, $13,000
• Purchase two mowers, $10,000
• Purchase cameras for 3 patrol cars, $13,500 total
Water system
• Extend water line to Public Works facility, $50,000
• Rebuild two well field pumps, $50,000
• Rebuild aeration and filter rooms in the water treatment plant, $25,000
Public Works
The Public Works Department will also fund two projects, remodeling the crew room ($44,000) and replacing the overhead doors at the Public Works facility ($6,000).

Revenue, expenses expected to decrease—
Council approves first reading of 2003 budget

Village Council will form committees to review the public pool and the solid waste fund, and consider selling the Village’s residential property to generate money for capital improvement projects. Council will also consider suspending at least one of three services the Village provides through the solid waste fund to save money on garbage pickup.

These were some of the items that Council agreed to tackle immediately, after Council members spent two workshops reviewing the Village budget and holding a formal reading on the document. The actions are part of a series of cuts the Village has implemented to decrease expenses and help balance the 2003 budget.

The budget also indicates the financial effect the closing of Vernay Laboratories’ two Dayton Street plants will have on the Village.

At its meeting Feb. 3, Council approved 4–0 the first reading of the budget. Council member Joan Horn was absent. A second reading and public hearing on the budget will take place at Council’s next meeting,Tuesday, Feb. 18.

The 2003 budget shows that total revenue is expected to decrease 17 percent, or $1.3 million, from $7.5 million in 2002 to $6.2 million this year. Expenses are projected to decrease slightly, by 1 percent, or $51,000, from $6.4 million last year to $6.35 million in 2003.

The revenue decrease is exaggerated because in 2002 the Village received a significant amount of unexpected revenue. An increase in income taxes and a large jump in estate taxes, which totaled $330,000 alone, bolstered the multi-fund, and the Village gained additional revenue for the electric system through an increase in the sale of electricity and a rise in revenue from a state-mandated tax.

Revenue projections for 2003 are similar to 2001 for three of the Village’s five major funds, the multi-fund, the sewer system and the solid waste fund.

During Council’s meeting last week, Council president Tony Arnett said that this year’s budget “incrementally improves” the Village’s financial situation, though, he said, the Village has a “long way to go” considering the long list of capital improvement projects the Village must tackle over the next 10 to 15 years.

Unlike last year, the 2003 budget contains a number of capital projects, which total an estimated $448,000. More than half of this year’s projects are coming out of the multi-fund.

The budget, however, lists $3.46 million in unfunded but identified projects that the Village hopes to complete in the future.

The multi-fund budget

The 2003 budget shows that day-to-day operations supported by the multi-fund will not exceed revenue. When capital projects are taken into account, expenses for the fund do outpace revenue. Revenue is expected to decrease 12 percent, while total expenditures are projected to increase almost 19 percent.

The multi-fund is projected to end the year with a balance of $872,000, which is 38 percent of the fund’s operational costs.

Last year, Council said it wanted each fund to have a reserve, or year-end balance, that equals 25 percent of the fund’s operating expenses.

Income tax revenue, which makes up 63 percent of the multi-funds revenue, is expected to decrease by $185,000, from $1.5 million in 2002 to $1,325,000. This decrease in part results from the closing of Vernay’s largest plant in town. The Village expects to lose between $80,000 and $100,000 in revenue this year from the closure, which company officials have said will take place in September. Vernay’s smaller plant will remain open for the foreseeable future, the company has said.

To address the anticipated decrease in revenue, the Village has eliminated paid positions with the Village Mediation Program and channel 13, the local cable access station. The Village has found other ways to save money, including closing the Bryan Community Center an hour earlier and requiring Village staff to clean the center. Hillard has called the cuts prudent and a way for the Village to achieve a balanced budget.

Last month, Council added to the budget $15,000 to pay for a part-time zoning administrator. Hillard had been responsible for the post since last year, when the former public works director was let go to save funds.

Council said that Hillard needed professional support to help handle zoning issues this year. To pay for the zoning administrator Council agreed to remove from the budget a leaf vacuum, which would have cost the Village $32,000.

Council also agreed to form a committee to review the Gaunt Park Pool’s operations. Last year, the pool received extra attention when Council increased the fees to generate more revenue for the pool, which financially cannot support itself. The second part of the fee increase will be implemented this summer.

In addition, Council said it will consider selling the Village’s two residential properties on State Route 343. A report by the blue ribbon finance committee said that the Village could earn $155,000 from the sale. Council indicated that the proceeds would be used to fund capital projects.

The Village utilities

As it did with the pool, Council has agreed to form a task force to review the solid waste system. The system does not generate enough in fees to support itself, and has maintained a positive budget with a subsidy from the multi-fund each of the last three years. This year, the multi-fund will provide the solid waste system $17,000.

The budget shows that solid waste system revenue will exceed expenses by $1,400. The fund is expected to end the year with a balance of $8,000, or 4 percent of its expenses.

To save money this year, Council agreed to consider postponing one of three services: the spring cleanup, the brush cleanup or the extra-item pickup service.

On Monday, Hillard said the system is struggling because additional services, such as the brush pickup, have been added to the fund that were once paid for by the multi-fund. The cost of last year’s spring cleanup also increased, he said. The rate structure is covering “what it was intended to cover,” Hillard said.

The Village’s other utilities are in better shape financially, especially the electric and water systems.

While the electric system’s revenue is expected to decrease by 25 percent, or nearly $770,000, receipts are expected to outpace expenses, and the fund’s balance is expected to increase to $685,000. This amount represents 30 percent of the fund’s operating costs for 2003.

Though expenses are expected to be greater than revenue for the water system, the fund is projected to maintain a healthy reserve of $430,000, or 82 percent of operations.

Hillard, however, was cautious when discussing the water fund, explaining that the system has a number of capital needs, including a project to repaint one of the water towers, which is estimated to cost $300,000.

He said that the Village is “taking a methodical approach to evaluating the system” to strengthen its operations and create a capital improvement plan.

It’s a different story for the sewer system, which Hillard called at a budget workshop “problematic.” While the fund’s revenue is projected to exceed expenses, the system is not generating funds to cover all of its capital needs, which, according to the budget, total $457,000. The fund’s year-end balance of $104,000 represents 14.3 percent of operational costs.

The closing of Vernay’s plants will also affect the electric, sewer and water system. The electric department is expected to see the biggest decrease in revenue at $125,000. The sewer department expects to lose $22,000 and water system is projected to lose $17,000.

—Robert Mihalek