NEW STRAITSVILLE — The New Straitsville Village Council is looking at different ways to help reduce the village’s expenditures.
As of the end of February, the village had five funds in the red, including its general fund by about $1,000, the police fund by about $21,700 and the sewer fund by about $18,700. The fund with the greatest positive balance was the fire department fund with about $45,300, followed by the water department fund with $24,400. The total balance of village funds was $48,200 at the end of February.
“I think a lot of spending needs cut because it is only going to get uglier as it goes on,” Council member Patty Jenks said at the village council meeting earlier this month. “We will have to cut down on extra help unless it is an absolute emergency.”
She even offered to give up her own council pay if it would help the village. “That’s not why I’m here,” she said.
The council has taken measures to reduce spending and increase revenue in the past few months, including approving a sewer rate hike that was effective in September and two ordinances regarding the new terms of water billing and delinquent accounts. Both ordinances were effective Jan. 1. Council also is considering adding another ordinance concerning delinquent sewer bill accounts.
Council reduced the hours of its auxiliary officers and eliminated a part-time assistant clerk position held by Shawn Hutchison, who helped with the once-a-month mayor’s court.
At the last council meeting, Mayor David Brown proposed changing the village clerk’s hours to Mondays through Thursdays from 12 to 6 p.m. The clerk, Marion Neal, currently works 32 hours a week. She expressed concern at past meetings that she can’t keep up the amount of work she does without extra help or in less hours.
Hutchison said she would volunteer her services to continue running mayor’s court if she was allowed to. Village Solicitor Jason Sarver said he would check into the legalities.
Council member Nichole Neal said before any changes are made to the clerk’s hours, the village needs make sure all the work around the municipal building can be accomplished in the set time frame.
“We need to make sure what work needs to be done here, who pays the bills, balances the check book, etc.,” she said.
Nichole also said not only does the village need to cut expenditures, but make the most of its revenue sources, such as law enforcement fines.
“We have a resource to bring in revenue and to keep this place safe. It’s a double win,” she continued, adding that she doesn’t want to village to become a “speed trap” or want law enforcement to stop people with the sole intent of writing citations.
The village did employ a part-time police chief 24 hours a week. The last police chief was terminated after receiving drug-related charges in Athens County. The village is currently accepting applications for a new part-time chief.
Council continues to hold financial meetings between regularly scheduled council meetings. The next New Straitsville Village Council meeting is at 6 p.m. Monday, April 9.
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