Mingo Junction approves 2014 budget

MINGO JUNCTION – Village Council addressed water and sewer projects and passed the budget for 2014 on Tuesday.

Council approved an ordinance to increase the capital improvement costs on the sewer bills by $6 to pay for the Lincoln Avenue sewer-separation project. The fee increases to $8 a month to generate funds to pay the 20-year loan on the $2.4 million state-mandated project.

The project includes separating about 3,000 feet of sewerage and storm water lines on Lincoln Avenue. Water lines on Lincoln Avenue also will be replaced as part of the project. Streets will be repaired and paved in the work area.

The Ohio EPA wanted the separation of the sewer lines to prevent too much water going into the sewer plant during heavy rains and causing an overflow.

Work began Monday with sections of the street being cut. The street is closed during the day and will be one lane at night. Residents are not allowed to park vehicles on the street, and those with parking concerns are asked to call the village administrator’s office for help.

The Lincoln Avenue sewer-separation project is just one of several the village is being forced to complete by the Ohio EPA.

Craig Juday of CT Consultants said council in 2008 approved a schedule of when all the projects will be completed. He said council needs to amend the schedule because the village has fallen behind in getting the projects started. He said the projects agreed to by council in 2008 should have been completed by the end of 2014.

Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. on March 6 to discuss amending the schedule and then submitting it to the state agency.

Mayor John Fabian said he had hoped the Ohio EPA would leave the village alone for at least 10 years in completing the other sewer separation projects once the Lincoln Avenue job was started.

“We just put a $6 increase (on the residents),” he said.

Juday said the Ohio EPA isn’t pressuring the village to get the sewer-separation projects completed but the village needs to show it is being proactive in moving forward.

Councilman Michael Herrick said the village faces fines by the state if the work isn’t started.

“We have to keep doing this so they know the work is being done,” he said.

Council approved the 2014 budget, which Clerk John Angelica said is again tight.

The general fund budget totals $1,235,353, but also includes nearly $363,000 in the community complex money that was transferred from income tax money into the general fund. Council has said the community complex money will only be spent on emergencies.

Without the complex money, the budget is nearly the same as the 2013 budget, Angelica said.

“We are cautiously optimistic. Hopefully the revenues will come in as anticipated,” he said.

As for services to residents, Angelica said, “We are just trying to hold onto what we got. It is a struggle.”

Angelica said he will inform department heads to limit spending.

“I will tell the department heads we are not out of the woods and to watch their spending and pennies,” he said.

Fabian suggested council meet on the budget in about three months to determine how spending and revenue is going and make adjustments.

Frank Bovina, Mingo Revitalization Committee chairman, said the committee is continuing to work on a strategic plan for the village.

The committee recommended council develop a five-year financial plan to include all major department funds. He said the plan will provide a basis for determining the effectiveness of implementing revenue-generation or cost-reduction strategies in various funds of the village.

The committee also recommended the village should consider performance audits by the state auditor’s office for any fund reaching or approaching a negative balance.

Bovina said the village also should consider the formation of a joint venture with other municipalities relating to the sale of water. He said the cost of providing water would be shared by the communities participating.

Council approved an ordinance to apply to the Ohio Public Works Commission for an emergency grant to repair the Lincoln Avenue overpass water line.

A temporary fix was made to the line over state Route 7 about two months ago.

Village Administrator Steve Maguschak received a quote of $46,300 from a contractor to fix the line. He said the village would have to pay 10 percent of the cost if the grant is approved. He said a permit already has been filed with the Ohio Department of Transportation for the work.

Maguschak also announced the village has received an order of salt for treating the roads. He said crews have been out patching potholes on South Commercial Avenue.

Herrick said the recreation committee met with softball and baseball organizations about using the village’s ballfields. He said the organizations have agreed to maintain the fields and set up a schedule for use of the fields. He said the village should agree to provide lime for lining the fields.

Herrick said the swimming pool at Aracoma Park will be drained and painted at the beginning of April.

Council also agreed to bring in an ordinance setting pool pass rates for the season.

Council also heard from Brandon Andresen, Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District water quality coordinator, about a consortium of communities in the county that have come together to prepare a plan dealing with an Ohio EPA mandate on storm water runoff control.

The village pays $5,000 a year to be part of the plan.The cost would be much higher without participation in the consortium.

Council’s streetlight committee is set to meet at 7:30 p.m. on March 6.