Village has a few hours left to make decision on cost-cutting measures

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 14, 2003

COAL GROVE - Time is running out.

Even with an unexpected delay, the Coal Grove Village Council has just a few hours left to decide how to cut costs in time to make its $47,699 January debt payment.

Council attempted to meet in special session Thursday to adopt a plan, but the meeting was not official because Councilman Randy Wise did not receive notification a full 12 hours prior to the meeting.

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The council called another special meeting for 5 p.m. today where it is expected to approve a plan to address the village's financial problems. Concerned citizen Les Boggs and Village Clerk/Treasurer Juanita Markel have both offered plans for council to consider.

Council can choose to implement all or part of either plan or come up with its own solutions.

Markel's recommendation calls for immediately laying off four employees - one from the street department and three from the water department - something that she said is long overdue. This would save the village a total of $159,751 in wages and benefits each year.

If overtime was eliminated, Markel's proposal would save the village $85,428 in wages and benefits from the sewer fund that could be used to make water plant repairs, update equipment or keep as a reserve.

In the sewer fund, the village would save $40,249 that Markel said would be perfect for the annual debt service payment so that it would not be an annual problem.

The cuts would also save $34,074 in the street fund that could be used for blacktopping, street and sidewalk repair and more.

Local business owner Boggs approached council at Tuesday's financial workshop and said he could create a plan that could save the village more than $110,000 annually. Though no action could be taken, he was still legally allowed to present his solutions Thursday.

Boggs said is not looking for any personal gain or recognition but just "wants to be part of the solution, not part of the problem." He proposed a plan with three goals - keep job loss minimal, provide adequate public services and generate money to operate the village.

First, he outlined the current state of the village.

In 2001, the village's general fund had $165,000 but spent showed $54,000 more in expenditures than in revenues. This trend continued in 2002, with the general fund having $95,800 more expenditures than revenue.

Currently, the general fund is at $26,000 and would have a hard time making the current payroll for another six months. And this does not even include the debt service payment that is due Jan. 1.

In conjunction with other ways to cut costs and generate revenue, he said the village should lay off one employee immediately and not replace another who is set to retire next year.

If the two jobs were cut, it would save the village $91,600 in salary and benefits each year. He also recommended selling approximately 40 acres of wooded land at the end of Remy Street for $35,000 in one-time revenue.

If the village could find where it is losing 7 million gallons of water each month, it would save at least $15,000 each year.

He also proposed offering village employees a $4,000 annual check to refuse insurance. If just one person opted to do this, the village would save $14,000 each year.

As another part of his solution, Boggs said he is so confident that the village will turn around that he will provide a $25,000 no-interest loan that will be paid back $1,500 per month starting in 2005.

Overall, Markel said that Boggs plan is not saving the general fund any money and would actually increase the debt.

Mayor Tom McKnight did not attend the meeting. He has missed two meetings and Tuesday's workshop since being defeated by Larry McDaniel in last week's election.