Mingo water, sewer budget tighten

MINGO JUNCTION – The village is looking for a slightly bigger general fund this year, but problems are on the horizon in the water and sewer funds, said village Clerk John Angelica.

Angelica said council has about $875,000 to $900,000 available for the general fund.

The general fund budget in 2013 totaled $842,400. The general fund on paper looks a lot larger because of the transfer of $362,999 from the community complex fund, which was approved last year in Jefferson County Common Pleas Court.

Council has said the money will only be touched in the event of an emergency.

The village received an additional $17,000 in revenue last year due to a refund from the state Workers’ Compensation and an increase in cable television fees.

“We had a lot of good luck, plus what council did in reducing costs,” Angelica said. “It was sad we lost three or four employees (due to layoffs). There was a savings in electrical costs with the half the street lights being turned off. The department heads did a wonderful job in keeping down spending. They were only buying what was absolutely necessary.

The employees and residents have to realize this isn’t 2005. They are going to have to pay a little more if they want the services to be the same.”

Angelica said council is trying to maintain services and addressing problems on an individual basis.

The village had to pay $20,000 last year for in state audit costs, an expense that won’t be realized this year. Angelica said he wants to see the money split among the fire and police department.

He said the Mingo Safety Forces made concessions last year to help with the budget.

“We still need the cooperation of both unions (in the village),” he said.

The water and sewer department budgets are outside the general fund, and both will have problems this year and next.

The village will be able to make the $542,000 in water plant bond payments to the state this year but the water fund will only have $35,000 remaining in 2015. Council may have to consider a water-rate increase to fund the bond payments.

Council is proposing increasing the capital improvement fee on sewer bills from $2 a month to $8 to generate enough money to pay the loan on the state-mandated Lincoln Avenue sewer separation project.

A public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Jan. 30 at the Municipal Building on the rate increase.

Council last summer entered into a contract for the $2.5 million sewer separation project as mandated by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Work is expected to begin in the next several weeks and be completed in late spring.

The village’s engineering consultant said the project involves separating wastewater and storm water into different pipes.

The engineer said the combined system now can lead to an overflow issue at the wastewater treatment plant and untreated sewage being dumped into the river.

The village has received a 20-year loan through the Ohio Water Development Authority.

The project will include separating about 3,200 feet of wastewater and storm water lines. Water lines also will be replaced in the work area.

Angelica said the village has to make the first loan payment in July totaling $135,000.

The increase in the capital improvement fee on sewer bills will generate $153,000 a year.

He said the additional $18,000 will be put aside for other sewer projects.

Mayor John Fabian has proposed the village do a street patching program this summer instead of spending all the money on street repaving. The village has $153,000 in the street improvement fund, Angelica said.

The village also received a $45,600 Community Development Block Grant through the county Regional Planning Commission to pave the northern section of Commercial Street going toward the state Route 7 north on-ramp.

Council has until March 1 to adopt a budget.

Angelica said he has prepared a balanced budget but council will now work on individual line items.

Angelica said he wants the final budget to be placed on the village’s website.

Michael Maguschak is in charge of the village’s website.

“I want transparency. I want residents to see where their tax dollars are going,” Angelica said.

He noted he is always concerned about revenue, especially the village’s 2 percent income tax.

“We need businesses to come into Mingo Junction.

He also is concerned about the decrease in local government funds from the state.

The village three years ago received $250,000 from the state but is only anticipating receiving $108,000 this year.