Concern in the village is growing over its financial situation.
"I've never been in these circumstances before," said Newcomerstown Fiscal Officer Kim Meek.
Meek is referring to the financial situation of the village. She has been told by the State Auditor's Office that the village could be placed in "fiscal emergency" if actions aren't being taken to correct the negative balance in the cemetery fund.
At the end of June, the cemetery fund had a negative balance of $157,943.36.
By having one of the village's funds in a deficit, it could label the village as being placed in "fiscal emergency."
The four criteria that place villages in fiscal emergency include: Not making payroll, not making debt payments, not paying bills, and running funds into significant debt.
Auditors started questioning the funds in the village during an audit in December 2011. However, Meek said State Auditors will be returning to the village within the next few weeks to examine the books for the first four months of the year. Their recommendation will be given to State Auditor David Yost. It is his decision whether or not to place the village in fiscal emergency.
"If a fiscal emergency is declared, a commission is appointed to oversee the financial activity of the government until the emergency is terminated," according to "Introduction to Fiscal Emergency," a booklet provided by the Auditor of State's Office.
The commission will consist of seven voting members. Four members are ex-officio (the treasurer and the director of the budget and management serve as ex-officio members, along with the mayor and the presiding officer of the legislative authority) while three are appointed. The commission is therefore granted the authority to come up with a plan to get the village's finances back in the "black."
In essence, the commission will be given the task of correcting the negative balance in the cemetery fund.
However, with Village Council approving the placement of a 1-1/2 mill, five-year cemetery levy on the November general election ballot, it would help the fund, Meek said. The levy, once it is started to be collected, would generate an additional $70,000 a year. On an average year, the cemetery fund generates approximately $30,000. Therefore, that would be $100,000 to help correct the deficit in the cemetery fund as well as continue to operate the cemetery.
That is one proposed answer to the deficit fund balance. The cemetery department has also cut staff by only having one employee and not replacing equipment. But that just hasn't been enough.
There was talk that Village Council would increase the rates of opening and closing of cemetery graves for those that are to be buried in the cemetery but didn't reside within Newcomerstown. However, no formal motion to that effect was presented.
Monies that come into the cemetery fund are from the opening and closing of graves in the village's cemetery, as well as trust money designated for the cemetery fund. In turn, expenses for the department are that of one full-time employee as well as maintenance on the equipment.
"It's always had more expenses than income," Meek said regarding the cemetery fund.
In year's past, Village Council would approve the transfer of funds from the General Fund into the Cemetery Fund and it would take it out of a deficit. But, cuts to the General Fund have hampered the village from doing so as of late. The Local Government monies that come from the state and county into the General Fund are continuing to be cut with an expected cut of 20 to 25 percent for 2013.
For instance, at the end of 2010, there were seven village funds in a negative balance. This year started with the General Fund at a negative $3,677.33. It has since improved and is at a positive $61,447.96.
State Auditors are expected to be in the village in the next few weeks and their determination will outline the path the village must go.