Plain City Village Council starts making cuts
By Kevin Dye
Plain City Village Council took steps at its meeting Monday night to address its dire budget situation and get on the road to a balanced budget at the expense of a village supervisor position.
Council members and Mayor Sandra Adkins had discussed the possibility of delaying any drastic measures with personnel cuts until the final numbers from the 2012 budget were available after the first quarter of 2013.
“If we hold out, we will have a clearer picture of how 2012 ends,” Adkins said. “We are talking about what we know and what we will know in January.”
The Plain City budget for 2013 was projected to be $25,000 short and if things like delinquent income tax receipts did not increase by the end of the year, the village would be forced for the second straight year to draw from its savings if additional cuts are not made.
“We have to have a balanced budget don’t we?” council member James Moore asked.
Council members had suggestions for other ways that income might increase to make up the deficit, such as the new village swimming pool repaying expenses of $20,000 and the unpaid income tax revenue.
“The pool did make some money,” council member Kevin Vaughn said. “It has been suggested that the pool pay back their expenses to the general fund and that could help the budget temporarily.”
“If there’s a chance to get more funds, the majority want to stay the course,” council member Shawn Kaeser added. “But is this a course we want to be on.”
Adkins said that the village’s share of governments funds is $65,000 and while that amount might be increased, the village has been assured that it won’t be reduced. She stressed that the village was trying to operate as efficiently as possible, but there remains a deficit.
“We have talked about the elimination of a supervisor, but what does that do to our services?” Adkins asked. “That is huge. We are a small entity trying to operate at an efficient level. It’s the variables of what that position did and how do we cover that.”
The position in question was that of public works supervisor, which is currently held by Pete Brokus. In addition to the possible elimination of that position, village administrator Steve Hilbert informed council earlier in the meeting that village employees were only going to be able to plow snow during normal business hours, as overtime was out of the question due to the current budget restraints.
“I met with Madison County engineer Dave Brand and Union County engineer Jeff Stauch and they will help us with plowing snow on Chillicothe Street, Jefferson Avenue and West Avenue,” Hilbert said. “I really appreciate the cooperation of both counties on that. Our guys will try to do the best they can during normal works hours.”
With money so tight in the village, council member Shawn Kaeser questioned waiting until 2013 to make difficult budget decisions.
“Right now we are looking at a deficit and we have no money for emergencies,” Kaeser said. “Would we run our homes that way, where we can’t pay our bills and have no money for anything that comes up. I don’t think we can operate in the red. The voters have made it clear that they don’t want to pay for this. They have made a decision with their vote.”
Council member Doug Saxour then made a motion to do away with the public works supervisor position to help balance the 2013 budget. Steve Hilbert said that he hoped that Brokus would get the same notice and severance as others had gotten in the past.
“When we are faced with deficits, I don’t think we can look at buy-outs,” Vaughn said. “We can delay the elimination of the position.”
The elimination of the public works supervisor position, with a salary of $55,000, would cover the expected $25,000 deficit for 2013, provide the $15,000 of cost for the village’s share of unemployment benefits for Brokus and leave an additional $10,000 for the general fund.
Council then decided by a 4-1 vote to eliminate the public works supervisor position effective Jan. 1, 2013, with council members Saxour, Moore, Kaeser and Vaughn voting in favor of the measure and council member Skidmore voting against it.