Thursday, December 17, 2015

Deficit shown in proposed budget delays council vote

JOHNSTOWN INDEPENDENT

Johnstown Village Council delayed a vote on a proposed 2016 budget that showed a negative balance in the General Fund at the regularly scheduled council meeting Tuesday, Dec. 1.
As proposed, the budget resulted in a negative balance of $60,873 in the general fund, so it could legally not be passed, village officials said.
The vote on the budget was postponed until the next council meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 15 at 599 S. Main St.
Johnstown Mayor Sean Staneart recommended another Village Finance Committee meeting, which will be open to the public and held at 6:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 7, at 599 S. Main St.
In the proposed budget, 5-percent salary increases for village employees were factored into the budget. The amount of each potential raise would depend on an employee's years of service and performance, as determined by department directors.
The issue of the village having outdated and low salaries has frequently been brought up at council, with both the service department and police department losing employees to other communities that pay higher wages.
When discussing appropriations for the capital improvement fund, council members debated which roads in the village most needed to be repaired next year.
Service Director Jack Liggett said he and the village engineer, Jamie Decker, ride throughout all the village streets and take into account which roads need to be prioritized for repairs.
"Part of the decision is looking at what we can afford, what can we do to prevent road failure, how much traffic there is, and a lot of hard work goes into these tough decisions," Liggett said.
Councilman Bob Orsini viewed the road repairs as a long-term investment that could potentially encourage new residential growth in the village.
Other matters

Village Council President David Keck said this calendar year there are 28 pay periods instead of 27. This phenomenon happens every 11 years and resulted in a re-appropriation of $80,000 into this year's budget.
He explained that because the village has had five finance directors in seven years, there was little warning about the unanticipated expense.
"It's a weird one time thing," Keck said. "We discovered it and are fixing it so it won't catch us off guard again," he said.
Council members voted to move all 2016 regular council meetings to start at 6:30 p.m. and not 7 p.m