By Karen Cornelius
The Finance Committee met on Monday night, October 16, and requested input on the 2017 budget to determine where the city was at nearing the end of the year. It appeared council members have had no monthly reports since July.
Finance chair Monica Stark asked for the review to see how the city was looking. Finance director Brian Keller said he could provide budgetary highlights of the main funds that night and could provide the exact numbers if they wanted them. He said 1,000 purchase orders passed through the department and were completed. As far as the general fund, all departments were operating on schedule so he was very pleased. This year there are less legal fees, and the police department part-time is lower than last year. In 2016, it was $183,000 and this year through October it is $96,000 which is good.
The street levy fund and permissive use will have some year-end amendments coming plus the three they have already done. The Street M&R Fund is finishing on budget, and the city purchased extra stone for the dura-patcher which has been out working. Keller said there might be a need to transfer some general fund money to the Recreation Department which is waiting on baseball participation fees to come in. He said the fire department is doing very well. He is not sure if the new fire command vehicle is coming in for this year’s expenses or next year.
Keller continued that the cemetery fund is breaking even, but their only truck died, and they are gathering quotes. The Vermilion Tree Commission received $20,000 this year and now they have an additional $16,000 plus in donations so they are doing well. He stated that the Museum Fund needs attention due to engineering study expenses. The Water Fund could have a positive carryover, and the Waste Water Fund is healthy. There is lift station maintenance where $43,000 was spent so that number is up. The Storm Water Fund showed some wage increases, $36,000 in October, due to several projects. Keller said the Insurance Fund was better than last year. In 2016, there were $932,000 in claims and this year it’s $645,000. “It’s better, but not great and there were increases in prescriptions,” said Keller.
Finance chair Stark told Keller she would like a spread sheet so everyone could see the figures. She asked why the Rec Department was down. Keller responded that they are operating on a bare-bones budget and there’s a limit to the revenue they can generate. If participation fees go too high, children can’t afford the programs. He said they walk a fine line covering expenses and not discouraging participation. Stark asked if there would be a carryover of the general fund into 2018 and what it would be. Keller estimated it could be $200,000 to $300,000. The carryover really comes down to the wire.
Councilman Jim Forthofer asked about the increased cost for the museum survey and thought there was money from the acquisition to cover it. Keller stated that there’s a maintenance individual who works on the property. Councilman Fred Ostrander asked if the incomes are sticking toward the budget. Keller said they were. Councilwoman Brady said the Road Improvement Levy Fund was up $100,000 from an earlier estimate. Keller said that was because of the large projects for traffic signals, the Highbridge Road bridge.
Finance chair Stark asked Keller to provide monthly financial statements to council members to tell them where they are at as far as expenses and income. She said council members have had no statements since last July. Keller said he realized that was the department’s weakness and he was working on it. Councilman Frank Loucka mentioned that Vermilion Port Authority also had some questions on high expenses concerning the dark fiber project which they understood they would be piggy-backing on the city’s. Keller said they were meeting and resolving that issue.