Mantua – Last Tuesday’s Mantua Village Council meeting marked the momentous occasion of the Village being removed from Fiscal Watch by Nita Hendryx, a representatives from Ohio’s Auditor of State’s Office (ASO). According to Jenny August, Village Clerk-Treasurer, Mantua met the criteria of ‘Fiscal Watch’ at the end of 2007, but was not officially listed as such until August of 2008. Loss of business within the Village contributed to its financial difficulties.

According to details on the ASO website, to determine whether a local government has fallen into fiscal caution, watch or emergency, the Auditor of State will review fiscal practices or conduct a fiscal analysis to determine the severity of the financial situation. If the analysis shows that a deficit in a local government’s general fund, or in any other fund, exceeds one-twelfth of the total general fund budget, then the local government is placed on fiscal watch.

According to August, “In 2008, Council determined we needed to take immediate and drastic action to correct the financial catastrophe we were in.  The first thing Council did was to reduce staffing wherever possible without adversely affecting services to our residents.”

To that end, two police officers and two dispatchers were replaced with part time employees at a lower hourly rate. Additionally, the Assistant Clerk-Treasurer was reduced to part time, and two employees who left the Service Department were not replaced. Wages and longevity were frozen. From 2008 to 2009, total payroll costs were reduced by over $100,000. In addition to staffing cuts, Council declared an “Emergency Spending Only” policy. The General Fund started out 2008 with a negative balance. Overall, the end of 2009 saw a reduction in personnel and operating expenses to the tune of approximately a quarter of a million dollars.

Council also came up with some new ways to generate revenue.  Case in point, the Village is now selling bulk water to a few local companies for swimming pools and other uses. This does not affect the service it offers to businesses or residents. In addition, the Village now accepts septage from portable toilet companies and other vendors, since business and residential needs had the Wastewater Treatment Plant operating far below full processing capacity. This change has generating about $35,000 per year, allowing the Water and Sewer Plants to support themselves with no help from the General Fund.

The Mantua Village Police Department earns additional funds by acting as dispatcher for the neighboring Village of Hiram. The funds generated by this arrangement are split between the General Fund and Police Capital, which will be used to purchase a new police cruiser without having to finance with a lender. In addition the police department also dispatches for the Mantua-Shalersville Fire District, generating revenues of $55,000 a year for the General Fund.

In addition to these major changes, the Village and its employees also made a variety of other changes that added up to significant savings. “I am extremely proud to say that I am a part of Mantua Village’s Administration. The employees have all made sacrifices over the past several years and have done their best with much less in order to provide great services to our residents,” summarizes August. Congratulations, Mantua Village, on a job well done.