Newcomerstown Village Council recently had special attendees at its meeting March 17.

The special attendees were later found to be two staff members from the state Auditor's Office. Their intentions were to urge village council to get the financial budget approved and develop the recovery plan to resolve the village's current fiscal crisis.

At the present time, the village is being penalized by the state for not having the recovery plan in place. The penalization is a reduction in the village's projected budget by 85 percent for each month they are without a recovery plan being put in place and being implemented.

"If you can take anything from this (meeting) tonight, please get the budget approved and get the recovery plan in place just as soon as possible. This is an urgent matter, and cannot wait any longer, you must act on it now," Laura Brown of the Auditor's Office said.

Brown pointed out that the longer the village delays initiating the recovery plan, they will continue incurring debt -- putting them even further behind.

Nita Hendricks of the Auditor's Office later presented on overview of the management of a general fund, special revenues, debt funds and trust agency funds. Hendricks clearly pointed out that each fund should remain within it's own funds (incoming and outgoing) and not to be going into other funds.

"The very most important task that a village can do is it's budget," she said.

Among recommendations made were that the village needs a budget completed and reduce all appropriations accordingly. She informed council that if the village could get a budget plan and stay strictly within the budget, they could sustain a sound financial record and remain in the black at the end of the year. She added that each fall season, about October, each department should be working on their budgets and have it ready for approval before the end of the year. She said that council should have the goal of having the budget approved before the end of the year.

Brown informed council she would be available to provide any direction to the fiscal officer to get the account report completed and get a feasible recovery plan ready for approval by council. She educated council that the two steps that are necessary to take immediately after a village/city would go into a fiscal emergency is to have an account report completed, and then develop and approve a feasible recovery plan.

It was then pointed out that Newcomerstown is

See BUDGET, page 2

in it's second year of the fiscal emergency, and no recovery plan in place.

Council later approved posting for a full-time fiscal officer/administrator position. Council also scheduled a special meeting for March 31 at 7 p.m. to approve the budget and discuss recovery plan.

The goal was stated to have the recovery plan in place before the next auditor's meeting on April 3.

Other business discussed by council included:

• Council wished to publicly thank Bob Cummings, owner of the former Whetstone Refuge Service, for the recent clean-up, removal of non-recyclable items that were left at the recycle bin area. Street Committee Chair Sue Simmons said the village is once again finding non-recyclable items at the recycle bin area (including furniture, mattresses, other debris that is not permitted). The plan was discussed by council to check into installing hidden camera in the area in attempt to identify individuals that are leaving these items. Once the person(s) are identified, they will be prosecuted.

• Save Our Pool-Newcomerstown project leaders Pat Cadle, Ken Hacker and Greg Bowman presented council with a pool budget (included costs for repairs, maintenance, and operational expenses). The pool project group met on March 18 to review the suggestions given by the community on March 10 and designate persons for each planned fund raiser event. At this time, council has not rescinded their earlier decision of not re-opening the swimming pool this year.