(Posted Oct. 26, 2021)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
“It was a good report, so hopefully we just keep trucking in the right direction,” said Courtney Bricker, fiscal officer for the village of Mount Sterling, at the Oct. 25 village council meeting.
Bricker was referring to an Oct. 20 meeting between village leaders and an auditor from the state financial planning commission. The village has been under fiscal emergency for about five years. Throughout that time, the commission has been monitoring the village’s finances.
On Oct. 20, the state auditor accepted the village’s recovery plan for the general fund for 2022. Two days prior, council approved the plan in a 4-2 vote. Melanie Fritz and Becky Martin cast the “no” votes. Both have expressed in previous meetings that the plan should include hiring a village administrator. The approved plan does not include that provision.
A key component of the 2022 recovery plan is the transfer of $100,000 from the general fund to the water fund to address EPA violations, the main one being the need to exercise critical water valves around the village.
At the Oct. 25 council meeting, Martin asked Bricker if the auditor indicated when the village might exit fiscal emergency. Bricker said the auditor did not say.
The general fund has been positive for more than two years, and the village has cleared all policy issues the state flagged early on in the oversight process. One item that’s left as a priority for monitoring is the water fund. The village has created a five-year forecast plan for the fund which they started to implement this year.
Andy Drake, chair of council’s finance committee, thanked everyone who worked on the 2022 budget over the past several months. He noted the committee continues to work on the water fund and other budget pieces not related to the general fund.
“Those are looking solid going into next year. We have to still watch, as we always do, but there will be opportunities to reallocate if we have to,” he said.
Council accepted a $4,800 donation from Stan Hanson to purchase brick dust for the ball diamonds at Mason Park. A former Mount Sterling resident, Hanson lives in Florida and has made many donations to organizations and projects in Mount Sterling over the years.
Council gave American Legion Post 417 the greenlight to explore lighting options for the newly installed flagpoles at the Veterans Memorial located across the street from village hall. Council members approve of the idea of installed an in-ground spotlight for the American flag. They’d like to see the Legion consider other options for lighting the service flags as the community beautification committee recently planted flower bulbs under the flags.
The following council committee meetings will take place at village hall:
• Records retention–Oct. 29 at 8 a.m.
• Parks and recreation–Nov. 1 at 8 a.m.
• Planning and zoning–Nov. 2 at 6 p.m. to hear a request for a variance and talk about aspects of home building standards
• Street–Nov. 3 at 8 a.m.
• Water/wastewater–Nov. 3 at 9 a.m.
• Finance–Nov. 8 at 8 a.m.
The nuisance and abatement committee is reorganizing. Council member Jay Pettey is the new committee chair, replacing Martin who stepped down. The next meeting is to be determined. The safety and block watch committee also is regrouping, looking for representation from the community. Mical Starr, who attended the Oct. 25 council meeting, volunteered to serve on the committee.
Fritz will attend the Pleasant Township trustees meeting on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. at the township building. Council member Craig Hix will attend the Tri-County Joint Fire District meeting on Oct. 28 at 8 p.m. at the fire station and the Sterling Joint Ambulance District meeting on Nov. 10 at 8 p.m. at the squad bay.