South Russell Village has an approved $7.4 million budget for 2022 after two meetings last week.
On Aug. 24, Geauga County Auditor Charles Walder attended the South Russell Village Finance Committee meeting to discuss a plan of action following the Aug. 16 hearing before the Geauga Budget Commission.
Commission members asked why South Russell had an excess of $4 million in the bank as well as a lack of progress on a number of certain budgeted projects.
South Russell Councilman Mark Porter said during the meeting on Aug. 24 that the money in savings was due to financial responsibility shown by the village fiscal office.
“We’re in this position because we’re very tight with the money,” Mr. Porter said.
The special meeting on Aug. 24 included a vote on a resolution noting that the village acknowledged the concerns of the budget commission, followed by a list of projects to be completed in 2022 adding up to $894,000.
The project on the Lake Louise bridge, which the village plans to begin this fall, is estimated at $263,500 and the project to add a stormwater detention pond next to Village Hall will cost $480,000. The village also plans to pay off a $150,600 interest-free loan to the Ohio Public Works Commission.
Although the resolution was approved, Councilmen Michael Carroll, Dennis Galicki and Councilwoman Cindy Nairn voted no due to the inclusion of the OPWC loan payoff.
“It’s disappointing that part of the resolution included paying off a zero-percent interest free loan,” Mr. Carroll said.
Mr. Walder said during the Aug. 27 budget hearing that the Aug. 24 village meeting was very “open minded.
“Those go a long way with change,” Mr. Walder said.
Geauga County Prosecutor James Flaiz, another budget commission member, said that the signed resolution is more than what the commission normally gets. He called it “iron-clad.”
Mr. Flaiz noted that the projects noted in the resolution were started years ago and remain unfinished.
“I am hoping this is a baseline, not a topline,” Mr. Flaiz said.
The budget commission then unanimously approved South Russell’s budget for 2022.
Mr. Carroll said that the road levy and police levy will still be included on the Nov. 2 ballot. He was confident that the projects outlined in the resolution will get completed next year.
The next South Russell Village Council meeting is Sept. 13 at 6 p.m.