(Posted Dec. 14, 2015)
By Sandi Latimer, staff writer
West Jefferson is set to begin the new year on schedule.
On Dec. 7, council members approved the village operating budget for 2016, passing it unanimously without discussion.
Mayor Darlene Steele, department heads and council members worked on the document for several weeks.
“I’m proud to say the budget is balanced,” said Ron Garver, council president. “I hope council next year stays within this budget.”
Garver is closing out a 20-year career on council, finishing up another four-year term at the end of this month.
“I’ve looked out for the taxpayer. That’s what we’re here for,” he said.
“It’s hard to do,” Steele said about drawing up a budget. “I asked each department head how much their department could use. It’s difficult to come up with a balanced budget.”
Steele anticipates revenue for the coming year to be $13.3 million, up from $9.9 million in 2015. The biggest increase is anticipated in Ohio Water Development Authority and Ohio Public Works Commission debt proceeds.
Expenditures account for $13.1 million. Most departments and spending areas see some increase but the biggest jump in spending will be in the Waste Water Treatment Plant Improvement fund and the wellfield/water treatment plant.
The budget also slates a 3 percent salary increase for village employees.
An ordinance creating a pay scale for all employees was adopted prior to the approval of the budget. It covers all hourly employees except seasonal workers whose pay scale remains the same as in 2015.
In preparation for the new year, council committee chairs were named. Randy Otis remains as chair of the public service committee, Doug Eakins as chair of the police committee, and Jim King as chair of parks and recreation. Steve Johnston moves over to head the finance committee, and Jen Warner takes over as the development committee chair. Newly elected council member Herman Stanley will chair the special events committee. The person named to fill Ray Martin’s council seat will chair the employee benefits committee. Martin is resigning from his seat to become mayor.
Sandy Boucher and Dean Bollinger were reappointed to three-year terms on the Planning and Zoning Commission. Boucher is council’s appointee; Bollinger is the mayor’s appointee. The commission is in the process of updating the zoning code book. Martin said he had met with the commission and asked them to have the update completed by July.
Council also renewed the Jeffersonians’ lease on the senior center for another five years for a fee of $5.
The next West Jefferson village council meeting is at 7 p.m. Dec. 21.