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State of the village for West Lafayette

| January 28, 2014

Jack PattersonI am presenting the State of the Village report to you using a different approach. To me, the State of the Village is a report of the status of the Village in the year past, in this case, the year 2013.

My report will not follow the outline of State of the Village reports that I have presented in the past. This will be different.

I think of the financial soundness as being the number one area of concern. Council and Mayor believe things have been somewhat challenging for us over the past several years, financially. I have had meetings with department supervisors in 2013 and they are aware of our fund balances and the financial projections for 2014 and after. We have managed our finances in order to finish in the black each year which gives the appearance to look sound, but from 2011 to 2013, we have lost local government fund income at the rate of approximately 50%.

The local government fund started 76 years ago, during the great depression, with the initiation of Ohio’s first sales tax. Part of the original purpose of the 3% sales tax was to provide revenue sharing with local governments on essential services. This revenue sharing was a part of local governments budgeting for 76 years. We have come to rely on that funding because it has been in existence for 76 years. The average collection of local government funds from 2005 to 2010 for the village has been $51,000 per year. In 2011, the Ohio Governor’s administration proposed to cut the Local Government Fund by 25% from July 1, 2011 until June 30, 2012. This cut amounted to an approximate loss to the village of $12,000. Then they proposed a cut of another 25% again from July 1, 2012 until June 30, 2013. This amounted to another loss of an additional $11,000 to the village. In two years we have lost approximately $23,000 for our general fund, which is necessary for village operations. This loss in funds and any future cost increases in insurance premiums and utilities will affect our continued level of service.

The state has also decided to do away with the estate tax, which averaged $13,000 per year income for us between 2005 and 2013. We have also lost the public utility reimbursement. These are additional reasons we need to find other means of income to sustain our way of operation of the Village that we are so used to having.

In 2013 we took a hard look at our finances and decided we needed to find new income for the general fund or in five to six years we would most likely be out of money in that fund.

The number one area that will be affected because of these decreases in government funding will most likely be a reduction in our police department. I personally, being a resident here, would not be happy to have a reduction in protection from our police department.

All departments have applied for and used grants to help us, but most grants need some sort of matching money and that matching money has been a problem to come up with.

Our water and waste water departments are facing similar situations in the future. Over the past years we have seen decreases in the fund carryover balances and have made adjustments to our spending, but there are only so many cuts that can be made with out complicating operations. Our Village Administrator and utility employees are aware of how the decreases in funds from government are affecting our general fund and they are doing what they can to maintain a respective level of operation.

The police department and our police chief are also watching their budget and reducing spending where possible. The chief maintains a copy of his budget on his computer and is in constant contact with our fiscal officer reviewing account balances. I feel any additional reductions will reduce the efficiency of this fine department.

Our volunteer fire department receives it’s financing through fire contracts with adjoining townships. Although this funding has been adequate, there are still items the department could use but cannot fit into their budget. Upgrades of vehicles are much needed. The fire chief and the volunteer firemen have maintained a great level of protection for all of us.

I praise all the employees and those associated with the village operations for their dedication to continuing to make things happen in a positive way.

Again, to continue to maintain a close level of service that many residents are used to having, we need to think about a new source of income for the village.

We had some employees leave our employment in 2013 and it is always a challenge to the department supervisors to make adjustments.

Our last employee to leave us in 2013 was our Fire Chief of many years, Gaylord Hill, retiring on December 31st. Chief Hill gave us fifty five years of service to the fire department. Good luck in your future.

We did have a couple new businesses join us in the village in 2013. The Village welcomes Stone Creek Pizza and Shampoodles pet grooming, both located on our Main Street. Circle K expanded their building and added more fuel pumps for the convenience of their customers.

I do not intend for this State of the Village report to be a soap box type speech, but the projected financial figures show changes will need to be made. The citizens need to decide.

Thank you for your attention and I look forward to continue serving as your Mayor in 2014.

Jack Patterson

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Category: Government

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Article contributed to The Beacon.

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