Mount Pleasant officials tossed out ways to plug a $326,000 hole in the 2013 budget, caused by higher-than-expected insurance costs.
Board members floated ideas like borrowing money, not hiring firefighters or a village administrator, closing a fire station, not paving roads and delaying capital purchases to balance the not-yet-approved proposed 2013 budget.
But no decisions were made at the Friday afternoon meeting.
Trying to make the budget more palatable to taxpayers, the words dire, hemorrhaging, dysfunctional and egregious were used by several board members as they reviewed the budget. Several plans were pitched, but none had enough support to pass.
The proposed budget published in the newspaper included a $16.9 million tax levy, a $900,000 increase over the 2012 levy. Since then, the village learned insurance would cost $326,000 more than originally thought. With those changes, the levy would actually have had to be $17.2 million. So, in order for the budget to comply with the one that was published, further cuts needed to be made before the budget hearing on Nov. 5.
Two board members brought forward very different plans, both aimed at solving the problem without passing the cost on to taxpayers in 2013.
Trustee Karen Albeck wanted to keep the $16.9 million levy and make the following changes to the budget:
- Not buy a new ambulance and remount a chassis on the old one,
- Eliminate the administrative assistant and the village administrator positions,
- Eliminate a personnel study,
- Not buy a lawn mower,
- Hire two new firefighters.
Interim Village President James Majdoch took issue with Albeck’s proposal to not hire an administrator. Majdoch was appointed after former Village President Carolyn Milkie unexpectedly resigned, along with the interim village administrator.
“It’s like buying a Lexus with no motor. We need someone to keep this Village together and take away the strain that is happening right now,” said James Majdoch. “We always say that we want to run this place like a business, but we don’t… If you want to run it like a business, damn it, run it like a business.”
He told the Board that he wanted a good solid working budget for the village without having to raise the levy.
- Majdoch's proposal was:
- not hiring two firefighters;
- closing a fire station;
- not buying an ambulance and refurbishing an existing one;
- borrowing $500,000 for roads projects.
Trustee Gary Feest said he liked a lot of Majdoch’s ideas, but he opposed Majdoch’s proposal because it included borrowing.
As the meeting went on with no sign of consensus, Jerry Garski said he was tired of listening, and asked for the meeting to adjourn.
Then, without solving the problem, everyone went home.