Long-term planning was the key to the Village of Newcomerstown's Financial Planning and Supervision Commission meeting last Thursday.
"If there's an accurate plan to fix the cemetery long term then let's implement the plan to go forward," said Laura Brown, project manager from the Auditor's Office. "If not, you're just throwing good money after bad money."
Brown is referring to the three negative funds in the village as of Oct. 31: Cemetery, park and water well field. She said the last fund will be corrected by the end of the year but the other two funds have some concern.
Money was transferred earlier in 2013 to the park fund. However, without having the revenue from the swimming pool being open for a full summer, it has hurt the pool fund. They have lost approximately $25,000 in revenue for only having the pool open one month due to needed improvements and the lack of pool passes being sold.
The cemetery fund continues to be in a deficit but it is not in as big of a deficit as compared to earlier in the year. One reason for that is having Cemetery Superintendent Mike Bryant also be the Street Superintendent so his pay comes from two different departments rather than just one.
Newcomerstown Mayor Jim Friel said he only sees one way out of the financial burden the village is in and that is to place a tax levy on the spring primary ballot for residents to vote on.
"There's been a lot of cuts done, we've taken away services, "Mayor Friel said. "We're in a boat but the boat has a hole in it. We need to go with a tax levy to plug that hole."
A public meeting is set for Saturday, Dec. 28 at 10 a.m. at the David Barber Civic Center, Newcomerstown, to discuss the proposed tax levy with village residents. He said this will probably be the first of two public meetings he plans to have on this topic.
Overall, Mayor Friel said the fiscal emergency "isn't anybody's fault but the economy."
The deadline to file the tax levy with the Tuscarawas County Board of Elections is Feb. 5. Therefore, meetings will be held prior to this date.
As far as another fix to the financial situation, the commission discussed the fact that the village fiscal officer is also part-time and is getting help from another part-time individual. Representatives from the State Auditor's Office would like that position to be full-time with day-time
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hours for availability.
"There's pretty important stuff that has to be done soon," Nita Hendryx, chief project manager from the Auditor's Office, said. "If department heads don't know what they've spent, how do they know what they can buy? I'm not saying anything that hasn't already been said."
She said there are important filings that have to be completed soon and under fiscal emergency, the village can have assistance from the State Auditor's Office for free. After 24 months of being in fiscal emergency (which is March 4, 2015), those items will start to cost the village. For 25 to 30 months after the fiscal emergency date, the village will pay 30 percent of the Auditor's Office fees. Then the fees will go up. The 31 to 36 months after filing, the fee is 50 percent, and after 36 months, the village pays all the Auditor's Office fees. She urged the village officials to get those items filed within the first 24 months.
Looking forward, Brown said the village's temporary appropriations for 2014 are being examined by village council and they should be in place by Jan. 31.
Those appropriations will be brought back before the commission to review.
The commission will meet again Wednesday, Jan. 29 at 10 a.m. at the Church of Christ in Christian Union. All meetings are open to the public.