The first meeting since the Village was placed under "fiscal emergency" by the State Auditor's Office took place last Monday.

The Newcomerstown Financial Planning and Supervision Commission -- that consists of Gary Baker, Baker's IGA; Jeff Staggs, superintendent of Newcomerstown School District; and Dee Stocker, manager of Century National Bank of Newcomerstown; Newcomerstown Mayor Jim Friel; and Heather Stein-Wells, Finance Committee chairperson -- had its initial meeting with representatives from State Auditor's Office and State Treasurer's Office.

"We're glad we are here, and we are going to try to help the village get out of 'fiscal emergency,'" said Sharon Hanrahan, Financial Planning Commission administrator who was in charge of the meeting. "This commission is not here to take control of the village. We are not coming in and taking over Newcomerstown."

The goal of the meeting last week was to establish the commission, as well as discuss the by-laws and the plans for the future.

Hanrahan said the commission will set-up a financial recovery plan, make the village finances more self-sustaining, and make sure necessary controls are in place for the future. By doing so, they will establish a five-year financial forecast for the village.

The financial recovery plan must be approved by village council within 120 days of the commission's first meeting which will be July 2.

That plan will address the fiscal emergency and deficit in the cemetery fund.

Hanrahan said the commission will not approve appropriations for the village. Instead, they will examine them and make recommendations.

"We're not going to tell the village how to spend its money but we will ask them how to address the deficit and fit into your financial plan," she said.

Laura Brown and Nita Hendryx from the State Auditor's Office gave some insight into some of the situations they have encountered in assisting the village over the past few months.

Hendryx said that by making the fiscal officer position part-time in the village, it is hard to reach her.

She said she would recommend that the village make the position full-time and have the individual work daytime hours when the State Auditor's Office is open.

"We need to have someone accessible," Hendryx said.

She said the year-end reports were completed by the former fiscal officer. However, reports from Jan. 1 until present have not been received because they have not made contact with the new fiscal officer.

Hendryx said getting financial information in a timely is so important in this situation.

Brown told the commission that the reason why the village was placed in fiscal emergency was due to the fact that the village's cemetery fund was in a negative balance of $155,149.

Brown agreed that the commission will make a five-year financial forecast to help with the financial situation in the village.

At the commission's next meeting, which are open to the public, they will be discussing financial numbers of the village.

The next meeting is set for Monday, April 29 at noon at the David Barber Civic Center, Newcomerstown.

However, Hanrahan will be attending village council's next meeting on Monday, March 18 at 7 p.m. at the civic center to discuss the commission and its goals.