Wellington’s 2017 temporary budget dips into savings

By Jonathan Delozier - jdelozier@civitasmedia.com

Deficit spending is forecast in Wellington’s $15.3 million temporary budget for 2017, with $171,415 more in expenses than what’s expected to be brought in.

Projected revenue sits at $15.1 million in figures approved Dec. 5 by village council.

Village manager Steve Dupee said Wellington can always dip into its $6.4 million cash reserve in the event it needs extra funds.

“It’s really not a deficit because the village still has plenty of unencumbered funds,” he said. “There are unencumbered funds in the general fund, the income tax capital improvement fund, and in our enterprise funds. We may use some reserves in 2017 to fund certain capital improvements.”

The enterprise funds referred to are for Wellington’s electric, water, sewer, and storm sewer services.

A rates study has been planned to take a new look at how much Wellington residents pay for these utilities. Dupee said that study is not related to having to dip into reserves in 2017.

“The rates study is a separate issue as it relates to having to use reserve funds this coming year,” he said. “All of the enterprise funds have expenses close to their revenues but we need to be ensuring that we’re building adequate reserves in those funds. We want to do this study to make sure the funds will remain in good shape for the long-term.”

Residents pay 12 cents per kilowatt-hour for electric service, $7.75 for every one thousand gallons of water used, and a flat rate of $3.50 per month for storm sewer amenities.

As of the end of November, $2.9 million sat in the electric fund, $309,000 in water, $168,000 in sewer, and $115,000 in storm sewer.

Dupee, who recently took the village manager job after a long career with the city of Oberlin, said the storm sewer fund stands out to him as the most concerning.

“What I aimed for and became accustomed to in Oberlin were fund balances that equal 6 to twelve months of operating expenses,” he said. “The storm sewer fund is well below that. It’s one of the drivers in us asking what we need to do to meet ongoing operating and maintenance expenses.”

There is no set date for the rates study to begin or how much, if at all, it would raise Wellington’s service prices, said village finance director Vanya Hales.

“We haven’t had an outside source do a rates study in a long time,” she said. “It’s going to go forward to see where exactly we’re sitting.”

The full-year budget is due to be presented to Lorain County officials in April.

Hales said those figures should remain mostly unchanged, with the only exception being $1.3 million in possible improvements to Adams Street that have not yet been approved and are not factored into the temporary budget.

“I don’t think anything will change significantly between now and then,” she said. “We’re just waiting to hear back from our engineers on if we’ll get to do Adams Street. We’ve applied for the funding for it.”

Talks of a possible levy to increase village revenue were bounced around at council meetings earlier this year. Hales said there are no plans right now to put one on the ballot.

Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.

By Jonathan Delozier