By Sue Moore
“We have heard the public loud and clear, asking that more money be spent for infrastructure,” said Bill Adams, village president. “This budget concentrates on prioritizing the local roads that need fixing along with the major streets. It increases the budgeted amount by 169 percent for local streets and 62 percent on major streets (those with curb and gutter). We’ve gone through the budget, penny by penny.”
“We have a new sheriff in town when it comes to keeping the finances in order,” Ken Schippers, acting village manager, said when questioned closely at the village council meeting in June, about fund transfers that have taken place in the past. Upon the recommendation of the BDO audit team, Kristy Vander Molen and Doug Havera, the council approved the village Treasurer Jenny McKillop’s recommendation to clean up all the old account transfers that had little or no substantiation and wipe the slate clean. Every amount that needs to be spent that isn’t in the budget over $5,000 will have to have council approval in the future, according to an ordinance that was passed during the current fiscal year.
This balanced budget is what the state was requesting in the council’s deficit reduction plan. The BDO team said they expected this submission would eliminate any concerns the state might have over the village finances.
The village begins its new fiscal year on July 1, 2014.
The money for street improvements had to come from somewhere so the council approved a reduction in the police department amounting to $148,000, meaning that two fulltime police staff will not be replaced. Chief Eric West has worked with the treasurer, village manager and the council to realize the savings in his department, although it has made for some very tough choices, he said.
Other highlights in the budget include:
•Angels Crossing golf course was able to stand on its own without any cash infusion from the village coffers in 2013, with the high expectation that the same would take place in 2014.
•$72,900 was reserved to pay for the village’s portion of the state’s SAW grant that will come due on June 1, 2015. The state’s contribution is $1.2 million. This grant will enable the village Department of Public Works and its engineering company to examine the water and sewer lines for deficiencies. They will map all the infrastructure, and make recommendations on how much money needs to be set aside for repairs each year in the budget.
•The costs for bonding and debt restructuring on the golf course had to be figured into the budget for the 2014/15 fiscal year, according to McKillop, but that will go away in the following year and allow the village to get back on its feet financially with a little bit more breathing room.
•The Vicksburg Foundation has contributed to the purchase of new meter reading equipment that will be much more efficient save money on billing, according to Schippers.
“I think the staff has a real good handle on the budget,” Chris Newman, council member said. “It is tight across the board, but anything we can do this year to get ahead next year, will make us better off.”