Council seeking to cut spending costs for 2018

WELLSVILLE — Village council is looking to find other alternatives to cutting its spending for next year, with one thing they are looking to avoid is cutting on insurance for employees.

During Tuesday’s meeting, council president Randy Allmon discussed the village’s plans to cut its spending as it enters 2018 in fiscal emergency, which the village has been in for the past 13 months.

Allmon said that even with the passage of the half-percent income tax levy last month and several cuts made by Mayor Nancy Murray throughout the year, the village is still battling a deficit of $203,000 as it enters the new year.

One topic Allmon brought up was in reference to a Personnel Committee meeting held last week, which had discussed the possibility of cutting health benefits for its employees but was met with a large amount of resistance.

Allmon shot down rumors and comments from residents that village officials were looking to take away health insurance.

“People asked me, and I sat in at the meeting so I can talk about it at John (Morrow, councilman)’s meeting the other day, with any person or any public employee that wanted to be here that we was trying to screw over once this levy passed, and so that is the furthest thing from the truth,” Allmon said. “I would never do that, but when you’re sitting at the deficit that you are, and Leetonia village eliminated their health benefits, we don’t want to do that.”

Allmon said, albeit reluctantly, that the village could be able to save $80,000 in health insurance by covering only employees and not offering a family plan.

“We don’t want to take away from the families, but we just can’t afford that,” Allmon said.

Allmon also stated that the police department’s overtime costs this year came to $71,680.50, largely due to a lack of part-time officers being able to fill shifts for full-timers on vacation, while the police expenses this year came to $617,946. He also mentioned that through the village’s traffic camera program through Blue Line Solutions, the village received a revenue of $59,360. Through this, Allmon still expressed his frustration into the financial situation.

“I’m at my wits end,” Allmon said. “I’ve talked to John (Morrow) about it, the mayor about it several times. I don’t know what to do honestly.”

Allmon said he is reassuring residents that it will not take away insurance from the police department, and looks to seek other police academies in order to recruit new officers, stating that they will not lay off any officers, while Murray added that they don’t have enough of a staff to begin with to consider layoffs.

Allmon also talked about suggestions that were made by the village’s Financial Planning and Supervision Commission, to which he and Murray also hold seats.

One suggestion by the commission, according to Allmon, was to change the half-percent income tax levy’s money dispursement from the already-publicly-approved 50/50 split–half of the funds are earmarked towards the police department’s services, equipment and wages while the other half are for paving the village’s roads–to a 75/25 split with majority going to police.

This suggestion, brought up at the Nov. 20 council meeting, was met with resistance and the funds’ split remain at 50/50.

Allmon warned council, however, that they may want to consider taking the state’s suggestions to cut down costs or the village may face a tougher battle.

“If we don’t start listening to what the state is asking us to do, we are never going to get out of this,” Allmon said. “They’re the experts. They’re going around to all these meetings in these other cities and villages that are in fiscal emergency, and they have suggestions, and the mayor has made so many, but I don’t know what the answer is and I’m worried. I’m really worried.”

While also pleased with the approval of the tax levy, councilman John Cianni commented, however, that the income tax should have been raised years ago instead of now.

“I think the part of the problem is, this raising the income tax should’ve happened years ago, and we waited until the 11th hour to do it,” Cianni said. “We didn’t instantly wake up with five thousand to three thousand people overnight.”

Meanwhile, Allmon also presented the village’s list of invoices over the past two weeks, which came to a total of $166.07, one of the smallest list of purchases for the village this year.

The invoices consisted of Bryan’s Lawn Mower Repair for a chopped saw coming to $40.76; Electric Wholesale for lights on Broadway Avenue ($11); Stevenson Company for an adapter for a drill to open the flood wall gate ($100); and Walmart for paint brushes, pans and dust masks ($14.31).