Mingo Junction passes smaller budget

MINGO JUNCTION – Village Council approved an $842,400 budget Tuesday, compared to a $1,277,690 budget last year.

Village Clerk John Angelica said he hopes the village meets its anticipated revenue projections throughout the year or more cuts will have to be made.

The village’s police and fire departments took a voluntary cut in pay to help balance the budget. The police department offices alone took a 33 percent cut in pay. Three members of the service department were laid off.

The village has lost 75 percent of its income tax collections over the past four years due to the closing of the RG Steel plant.

Angelica said he also is concerned about rising health care costs for employees. He said a 10 percent increase in health care costs was figured into the 2013 budget. The village is currently getting proposals from vendors for health care programs for village workers.

Angelica said the village has to make a $47,000 bond payment for the village’s water plant and then $280,00 payments twice a year in 2014 as part of a bond restructuring program the village worked out with the state last year. He said the village will have the money to cover the payment in 2013 but won’t have enough revenue come next year for the bond costs.

In a water related matter, Howard Armstrong, acting village administrator, said the village’s water plant is producing 90 million gallons of water a quarter and only bills for 17 million gallons. Armstrong said the figures will be double checked but he recommends bringing in a company at a cost of about $800 a week to determine if there are any major leaks. He said the water lines in the village are 100 or more years old.

Council’s water and sewer committee will discuss the issue at a meeting at 1 p.m. on March 6.

Armstrong also update council on automation projects for the water and sewer plants, which will reduce the number of workers needed. The sewer plant will be start automation by the beginning of March, with the water plant ready in April. Armstrong said the village has been working with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency on the automation projects to make sure state regulations are met.

Armstrong also announced a written copy of the village’s water shutoff policy for lack of payment and the billing for water and sewer service is available for review at the village building.

The village is looking to locate a trash compactor in the south end of the village.

The village agreed in November to buy the compactor at a cost of $63,000 but it will save the village about $40,000 a year in expenses.

The village had a verbal agreement to place the compactor on the Ewusiak property in the south end, but Armstrong said there are liability concerns.

He said the village may place the compactor on the village’s right of way off Commercial Street between Weldon Enterprises and Orrins auto sales. The property is owned by Frontier, the company that purchased the RG Steel plant, and a lease may be necessary, Armstrong said.

Armstrong announced the village will apply for $20,000 in funding through the county commissioners’ recreation funds to build a covered amphitheater stage at Aracoma Park. The village held a series of outdoor concerts at the park last summer.

Council also approved new costs and fees associated with demolitions in the village.

The fees for demolitions are: $50 to $1 million, 1 percent of the demolition costs; $1 million to $5 million, $10,000 and 0.5 percent of the costs; and $5 million and above, $30,000 plus 0.25 percent of the costs.

The village is looking to raise revenue with the pending demolition of the RG Steel plant.

Councilman Michael Herrick, who heads council’s street light committee, said 255 streetlights as of now will be turned off as a cost-saving measure. He said more unnecessary lights will be turned off. He said the committee is looking at areas of the village without homes to try to keep on as many lights as possible in neighborhoods.

“The neighborhoods will be lit up to everyone’s satisfaction,” he said.