Sue Kiesewetter reports:
Declining federal and state dollars won’t deter Liberty Township officials from balancing their budget this year.
With revenues estimated at $19.7 million and expenses projected at $19.8 million, officials are confident that through careful spending they won’t have to dip into reserves to balance this year’s budget.
“We won’t spend everything that we budgeted,” said Caroline McKinney, economic development director and spokeswoman. “All projects and capital expenses will be thoroughly analyzed and we will look for other financing opportunities. Our best intention is to have a balanced budget.”
Trustees adopted the 2013 budget that includes appropriations of nearly $1.9 million in the general fund – used for the day-to-day operations of the township – along with $5.3 million in the fire fund; $327,400 in the ambulance fund; and $2.3 million in the police fund.
For the second year trustees removed money to purchase a new engine truck to replace a 1999 vehicle. Trustees also scaled back dollars requested for a new staff vehicle for the fire department.
“We need to scale back,’’ said Trustee Pat Hiltman. “We have to think differently. There’s a need and a want. We need to cut our costs down.”
Hiltman said a full review of the fire department should be done early in 2013, including an examination of staffing to see if any positions can be reduced. He suggested nine full-time positions – one per shift, per fire station.
About 44 percent of the township’s revenues come from levies or emergency services billing but 51 percent of next year’s expenses will come from that department.
Money has been set aside to replace wood chips at Dudley, Liberty and Fort Liberty parks; add a shelter at Dudley Park; along with replacing a merry-go-round and slide at the Reserves Park.
Another $10,000 has been earmarked to complete the first phase of a path around Wilhelmina Park.
Money is also included for a Millikin Road and Hawthorne Hills hike and bicycle connection, phase two of the redesign of the Ohio 129 and Ohio 747 entrance and exit ramp planting beds, which will reduce maintenance with the planting of grass and evergreens.
The township will look for grant opportunities to fund park and other projects, McKinney said.