Whitehouse Village Council made tough budget decisions last week, voting to cut a major road project and hire another full-time police officer.
Council passed a 2005 budget, but officials said the budget may need to be redone next year if the state allocates less than expected to local governments. To balance the budget, village officials decided to forbid any equipment expenditures until June 1.
"We need to get a grip on our expenses this year," Councilman Debby Curry said.
Council voted to eliminate reconstruction of Cemetery Road from next year's budget. The project was scheduled to be done in four phases. Council's finance committee cut the latter three phases from the budget, and council voted last week to eliminate the first phase.
The first phase of the project would have reconstructed Cemetery from Weckerly Road to Rupp Road.
Randy Bukas, village administrator, objected to cutting the first phase from the budget because the village has received approval for state funding for the $652,000 project phase. The village would have received a $159,740 no-interest loan and a $159,740 grant.
"We can turn down this money now, but in the next 10 years, we may not get any," Mr. Bukas said.
Councilman Bill May said he thought the entire project should wait because the finance committee whitehousedecided to cut its later phases.
The six-member council was split on the issue, with members Mr. May, Ryan Grant, and Debby Curry voting to cut the project and members Herb Little, Angela Kuhn, and Jim Baber voting to keep it. Mayor Stanley Wielinski cast the deciding vote to cut the project.
Although council reduced its spending on road projects next year, it voted to give village employees a cost-of-living wage increase of 2.5 percent and hire a full-time police officer.
Police Chief Norbert Miller said he needed another officer because council directed him about a year ago to have two officers on duty at all times, and he has been unable to fill all of the shifts. He said overtime costs so far this year are about $22,000, and hiring a new officer would cut some of these costs.
A new full-time officer will cost between $40,000 and $49,000 annually including benefits, Chief Miller said.
Council voted 5-1 to hire another officer, with Ms. Kuhn dissenting.