Sunday, May 27, 2018
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Waterville panel sought to find ways to find more cash

A Waterville councilman wants the village to form a committee to study ways to bring in additional money, such as tax alternatives and revenue enhancements.

Councilman John Gouttiere presented his suggestion during council's meeting last week. After some council members said they wanted time to review his motion, the matter was tabled.

Mr. Gouttiere said he is interested in setting up the committee because the village is a bedroom community, heavily dependent on its citizens for financial support, and there's been a steady and repeated message from the council's finance committee for additional sources of income. Plus, council had difficulty this year balancing the village's budget.

As recommended by Mr. Gouttiere, the committee would have nine members: three council members and six people from a cross-section of the village.

The committee would study all reasonable forms of taxes and/or revenue enhancements available. It would report to council about all forms studied, providing pros and cons of the tax or revenue enhancement, procedure for implementation, method of assessment and collection, anticipated income, and other information for the evaluation of the benefits.

Mr. Gouttiere's motion did not appear on council's meeting agenda last week, and Mayor Derek Merrin said he wanted to see the matter listed on the agenda. He said he wasn't necessarily disagreeing with the proposal, but wanted time to look it over before the next meeting.

Such a committee, Mr. Gouttiere said, would give council some ammunition if it is unable to balance the budget next year. Based on the report, council at least would know the "arrows in its quiver" to call upon to balance the budget, he said. It would be best to study options away from the "heat of the fire," he said, which means information should be gathered ahead of the budget vote.

Councilman Gouttiere said council "cut the fat" this year when it balanced the 2010 budget. Funds were cut for its holiday party, July 4 fireworks, the fishing derby, the public works open house, and Music in the Park. And the village dropped its subsidy for the YMCA summer recreation program and the Waterville Historical Society.

Last week Mr. Gouttiere urged council not to delay setting up the committee because it will take time for the report to be developed.

Councilman Mike Metzger said considering the village's budget woes, the proposal is well taken.

For several years the village has spent more money than it takes in, creating budget shortfalls. The village has been borrowing from tomorrow to balance the budget, according to Mr. Gouttiere.

Council earlier this year agreed to change the 2010 income-tax-collection split, giving $171,000 more to the general fund and less to the five-year capital fund. Village income tax receipts normally are split 75 percent to the general fund and 25 percent to the capital fund. The allocation was changed because of need for more cash in the general fund.

In addition, council took steps to raise money as it balanced the budget, including imposing an ambulance transport fee and a monthly refuse fee.

The 2010 general fund, which covers the administration; police and fire departments, and income tax and zoning departments, includes nearly $3.4 million in revenue and nearly $3.3 million in expenditures.

Appropriations in all funds are about $10.4 million in revenue and about $10.6 million in expenditures. Salaries and benefits for village employees are estimated at about $2.8 million for 2010. The village has about 30 full-time employees.

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