Proposed budget bumps up parks & rec funding

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(Posted Nov. 26, 2017)

By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer

West Jefferson council members are studying the village’s proposed 2018 budget, which calls for $11.6 million in allocations, down $200,000 from this year’s budget.

Council held a first reading of the proposal on Nov. 20. A second reading and vote are slated for Dec. 4.

Much of the money the village gets for spending comes from the income tax. Departments also obtain grants for certain projects.

The 2018 budget proposal reflects a 2.1 percent cost of living pay raise for village employees and a 6 percent increase in health insurance costs.

The budget is drawn up after all departments present their wish lists and council committees meet several times.

As it now stands, the proposed allocation for parks and recreation is $139,029, nearly double what the department received this year. The increase is due, in part, to needs at the new community center, Mayor Ray Martin explained. He praised Marci Darlington, head of parks and recreation, for her efforts.

“She was able to obtain $17,000 in grants to help pay for programs at the center,” he said, adding that he hopes to eventually establish a separate budget for parks and recreation.

The village’s overall spending plan caught the eye of former council member, Ron Garver, who headed the finance committee during his time on council. He chastised council for spending more than the village is taking in.

“If you keep it up, you’ll have to go to the voters,” he said.

Martin said the village has reserve funds to cover any overspending.

Before the budget was presented, council approved pay rates for employees for the coming year. The pay rates were incorporated into the proposed budget figures.

Council also voted to allocate 75 percent of 2018 income tax collections to the general fund, 20 percent to the capital improvements fund, and 5 percent to the street maintenance fund.

This year, 75 percent went to the general fund, 15 percent to capital improvements, and 10 percent to street maintenance fund.

“The street maintenance fund is down (for 2018) because we want to build up the capital improvements fund,” Martin said.

In other action, council approved a new health benefits plan for village employees. The agreement with Medical Mutual of Ohio takes effect the first of the year.

Debbie DiLeo, who has stepped down as the village’s finance director, was thanked for her years of service.

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