Reduced appropriations could balance Northfield's 2021 budget plan

Ken Lahmers
Special to MyTownNEO

NORTHFIELD – In an attempt to come closer to balancing the 2021 permanent appropriations, Village Council has sliced $256,500 from the originally proposed figure, most of which comes out of the Tax Increment Funding portion of the budget.

Council considered the permanent appropriations for the first time March 10. The new figures are $4.2 million in the general fund and $8.1 million in all funds. Council will take action at its March 24 meeting so the permanent budget can be forwarded to the Summit County Budget Commission by March 31.

Finance Director Jennifer Potvin said expenditures this year are expected to exceed revenue by about $171,247, but the village has available a $1.36 million carryover from 2018 to 2020 ($1.11 million in the TIF portion of the budget). TIF money is used for expansion of village facilities.

Potvin said she is “very comfortable” with the village’s financial position, but noted, “We must constantly monitor the budget.”

The general fund breakdown is as follows: police department, $1.43 million; street lighting, $16,000; traffic signs and signals, $5,000; cemetery, $10,500; county health, $23,000; service department, $701,770; mayor, $45,580; Council, $41,135.

Mayor’s court, $64,323; finance department, $138,397; law department, $136,072; engineer, $103,914; general government, $351,500; contributions, $1 million; county auditor deductions, $12,000; land and buildings, $121,093; and transfers/advances, $580,000.

The breakdown of other funds is: street construction and maintenance, $296,173; police pension, $211,129; fire levy, $1.05 million; law enforcement trust, $9,000; law enforcement assistance, $1,000; court computer, $3,500; Northfield Park TIF, $1.27 million; earned benefits fund, $23,850; and sewer fund, $460,178.

Capital appropriations are listed at $157,593 in the general fund and $198,796 in all funds.

After lengthy discussion at a March 8 work session, Council eliminated $48,000 from this year’s budget for creating a village parking lot at the former PNC Bank, and reduced the proposed spending for a preliminary design of a future police station from $225,000 to $50,000.

After debating whether a village parking lot is needed, Council agreed to maintain the PNC site as it is now and revisit whether to go ahead with paving and striping later in the year.

Some city officials favor the new parking lot because it would provide space for Village Hall employees after the new police station is built beside Village Hall, as well as for customers of a handful of businesses across Route 8.

Councilman Gary Vojtuch suggested the parcel could be sold, but some of his colleagues disagreed. “That site was donated to the village and it should be used for the public good,” said Councilwoman Renell Noack, who suggested the village put a notice in this summer’s sewer bills to seek residents’ input about what to do with the parcel.

As for the new police station, Law Director Brad Bryan said extensive expenditures are not necessary at this time. “We could get preliminary design work done – at $50,000 tops – so we know where we stand,” he said. “We’re a couple of years away from proceeding anyway.”

Calling the conditions at the existing police station in Village Hall “terrible,” Service Superintendent Jason Walters said the village needs to get moving on plans to build a new station. And he supported providing parking for village employees and residents on the former bank lot.

Three other proposed expenditures that were removed from this year’s budget are a storage building at the Ledge Road service garage, paving of a Pitluk Preserve parking lot at the west end of Maple Avenue and an extrication tool for the fire department.

Meanwhile, Council favored budgeting for a storage building at the Houghton Road service facility, new turnout gear for the fire department, police department 800mhz radios and Jefferson Street flood control measures.

In other action, Council sent to second reading an ordinance amending the administrative code to allow the mayor to make purchases up to $10,000 without Council approval. The current amount is $5,000. Purchases between $10,000 and $50,000 would have to be authorized by Council, and bids would have to be sought for purchases over $50,000.

Council authorized American Legal Publishing to update and publish village ordinances and resolutions passed since Dec. 31, 2018.

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