A $15.8 million budget was approved Monday by Wellington village council, with $15.7 million in expenses forecast.
That means the village won’t be deficit spending in 2017, as was the case under a temporary budget adopted late last year.
But don’t mistake the narrow margin for a sign of financial trouble. While the amounts going in and out of the bank are close, Wellington is sitting on a $6.9 million cash reserve and isn’t in danger of running out anytime soon.
The largest project included in the full budget calls for new pavement and sewer replacement on Adams Street.
The budget assumes an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency loan — critical for funding the project — will be approved. Another $350,000 has been fronted by the Ohio Public Works Commission.
Officials said they don’t know when a decision will be reached on the EPA loan.
“This project is giving me pause right now,” said village manager Steve Dupee. “This is an important project. I understand why we’re doing it. It’s in the budget, but we’re not committed to it yet. Certainly, the EPA’s decision will tell us a lot.”
Changes for 2017 include increasing the police budget from $670,000 to $680,000 for one additional part-time officer, appropriating $30,000 for pavement reconstruction on Union Street, and $60,000 for expected drainage-related expenses on Adams Street.
Upgrades to the North Main Street water line were originally part of the Adams Street project but are now expected to be completed separately and before work begins there, said village finance director Vanya Hales.
“That is going to start at Elm Street and go toward Adams,” she said. “It will tie into the new construction on Adams when that project takes place.”
A transfer of $100,000 also went from the general fund to the sewer fund due to concerns with the village’s utility rates, which village officials say aren’t keeping up with cost of services provided.
The Poggemeyer Design group is conducting a study of Wellington’s water, sewer, and storm sewer rates.
“We’re just not collecting enough to fund debt service in water or sewer,” said Dupee. “We’re still in this review process on the utility funds. We need to see what that tells us and what council’s appetite will be for taking action. What will we do over a year period or a two-year period?”
Hales said she doesn’t foresee any large projects or expenses arising this year that would skew the budget.
“Other than Adams Street, I don’t see much changing,” she said. “We’re not expecting any kind of spontaneous changes.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.