In a 3-to-2 vote, Newcomerstown Village Council narrowly approved the 2012 appropriations for the village last Monday evening.
Mayor Jim Friel and Fiscal Officer Kim Meek prepared the 2012 budget which reflected a grand total of appropriations at $3,340,086.11 with $812,732.75 in the general fund.
"It is important to restrict spending and stay within the appropriations," Meek said about this year's figures.
Council members Heather Stein-Wells, Sue Simmons and Burris Gardner approved the appropriations. However, councilmembers Dave Hickman and Jim Carr opposed the ordinance and voted against the measure. Councilmember Janet Bush was absent from the meeting.
"Honestly, there isn't enough to correct the problem," Hickman said regarding the negative balance in the cemetery fund. "If we don't cut, the state will do it for us. I'd like to have a little say."
The cemetery fund does show a negative balance and should finish the year in a deficit of approximately $125,000.
However, Meek said the problem of having a negative balance in the cemetery fund didn't start over night and won't be fixed over night. She said it has taken years to acquire the debt and cuts to government funding, hasn't helped the village.
At the end of the year, if appropriations stay within the projections, council will transfer $50,000 from the general fund into the cemetery fund to help with the deficit.
"This will help pay bills and work off some of the negative balance," Meek said.
Carr said he voted against the appropriations because "I don't know if the numbers are solid yet."
He said the auditors are still here and examining the books. Carr said the village could be in "fiscal emergency."
"Until I know for sure the numbers are solid, I won't vote for that," he said.
The appropriations needed to be approved by council at Monday's meeting. The deadline to submit the budget to the county auditor was April 1. However, an exception was granted to the village because of their meeting was April 2.
Meek said if the appropriations weren't approved, the village would not be able to pay bills, pay salaries, etc. the following days or weeks (until it was approved).
In other business, council approved advertising for bids for the 2012 street paving project. There will be 23 streets (or portions of the street) paved in the village. The streets (or portions of the streets) to be paved include: Mill Street and Oxford Avenue, Oxford Street, two portions of Oak Street, Beech Street, Beaver Street, three portions of State Street, two portions of River Street, three alleys, Case Street, Main Street, College Street, New Pace Road, West Street, Cricket Hill Drive, Starkey Drive, E. State Street, and Adena Drive.
Meanwhile, Fiscal Officer Meek said the local motel/hotel bed tax went into effect April 1 and the local hotels/motels were all notified by written letter.
"I haven't heard any complaints from them," she said. "We should start seeing that money coming in May for April's collection."
In other business, council approved:
The adoption of a resolution authorizing the village to advertise for bids for a gas and oil lease in the village.
Participation in the Tuscarawas County LEAD Task Force program for 2012. The cost is $1,146.60 (based on Newcomerstown's population of 3,822 at .30 per person).
Hitchens and Associates' proposal for engineering for the 2012 street paving project at a cost of $36,607.
Allowing Street Superintendent Bob Martin to take old metal signs and man hole covers at the street garage to be taken to scrap yard. Money received from the scrap metal will go into the street maintenance fund.
The police department's activity report as presented by Newcomerstown Police Chief Gary Holland for the month of March. He said there were a total of 179 calls for service, 302 incidents, 39 reports, two accidents, and 19 felony and misdemeanor arrests.
A new five-year contract from Xerox on a new copier, toner and service agreement. The new contract will give the village a newer model copier and cost $21 less a month.
Meanwhile, Mayor Friel reiterated to council that the department heads need not be at both council meetings each month. He said if council wants to discuss items with them, they should attend the Mayor's monthly department head meetings.
Mayor Friel also announced that Monday nights at 6 p.m. will be the night for committee meetings. He hopes that all committees will take advantage of this so more business can be done.
Cemetery Superintendent Mike Bryant publicly thanked George Darr for his donation to the cemetery for its upkeep and supplies.
Goodrich Street residents Carol Harper and Nancy Little addressed council regarding drainage problems in the village, especially on their street. Mayor Friel said it was because their properties lie within the flood plain of the village. Harper said the problem started approximately 2-1/2 years ago when the street was paved. Tuscarawas County Engineer Joe Bachman will be contacted.
Council will meet again Monday, April 16 at 7 p.m. at the civic center.