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Garrettsville Council Discusses Flagpoles And Finances

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Garrettsville – A Public Hearing was held November 12, 2014 prior to the regularly scheduled council meeting for Proposed Ordinance 2014-31 that would eliminate a discrepancy in current legislation regulating the height of flagpoles in the village.  The discrepancy was found several months ago when a local business applied for a variance to install a new flagpole.  The proposed ordinance has nothing to do with that application, if passed it only rectifies conflicting legislation.  There was no offered discussion and no opposition.  The public hearing closed and the regular council meeting began during which the third reading of proposed Ordinance 2014-31 was recorded, voted on, and approved.

After a review of revenue, expenditure, cash balance and income tax reports, Councilman Hadzinsky commented that revenue for the past month had surpassed the previous year’s record, which helped decrease a deficit created by this years’ additional expenses.

A lengthy discussion ensued led by Council President Tom Hardesty, Councilman Klamer and Councilman Hadzinsky, about the state of Garrettsville’s finances and how the term deficit has been misunderstood by some residents to think the village is in debt – which it is not.  In fact the village will have approximately a $100,000 increase in carryover funds for 2015 compared to last year’s numbers.  The carryover is designed to fund the village during the next year’s first quarter before that year’s income tax revenues are collected.

What concerns Hadzinsky, who keeps track of the village’s income and expenses on a rolling twelve-month graph, is that the village has spent approximately $52,000 more than it has taken in the past year and if that trend were to continue, in time, it could deplete any carry-over balance.

Council President Hardesty assured council that the village’s revenue more than covers the obligatory spending every month (salaries, benefits, utilities, insurances, etc. totaling about $125,000/month).  Village clerk Nancy Baldwin added that 2014 income tax collections were ahead of last year’s.  She also reminded council that the added 2014 expenditures were for capital improvements and repairs, not spent frivolously.

Councilman Klamer was in agreement, reminding council members “Our job is to provide service to the residents.  Our job is not to see how much we can bankroll.”  He said as the village council they are responsible to the taxpayers and spending the extra money this year is “officials doing their job”.  Some of the extra expenses this year included work on sidewalk expansion and repair, dealing with drainage issues and curbing on Windham and South Streets.

Baldwin told council that in the 20 years she has worked for the village she has seen the expenses rise above income numerous times, but there have been many years of low spending too and it all balances out in the long run.

In fact, according to the last independent audit filed with the Ohio Auditor of State’s Office, the village is in compliance with all state budgetary laws.  The Ohio Village Officers Handbook provided by the Auditor’s office directs villages in their operations to assure compliance with all Ohio laws.  It also defines what constitutes fiscal watches or emergencies and Garrettsville’s finances are far from those definitions.

During roundtable discussion, councilman Klamer reiterated his thoughts about council’s  duty in providing good service to the residents of the village.  Klamer challenged his fellow council members by asking: “Do you want to be good or do you want to be great?”  He offered evidence of areas to improve services and encouraged all of council to engage in improving existing leadership and management within the village.

If you’d like to know more of what is happening in your community attend a meeting.  The next regular Village Council meeting is scheduled for December 10, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. at Village Hall.