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Wells Township faces budget cut

July 16, 2013
From staff reports , The Herald-Star

BRILLIANT - An additional round of reductions because of electric utility deregulation will result in $48,000 less for the 2014 budget for Wells Township, according to Fiscal Officer Joseph Matthews.

Giving a report during a recent meeting of the township trustees, Matthews said the 2014 budget is forecast to be $1,860,000 because of the reduction. The actual amount will depend on the final expenditures and revenues for this year.

So far this year, Wells Township is at 49 percent of its budget spent, Matthews said.

The expiring police levy was generating $279,000 per year. A replacement levy of the same 2 mills will generate $343,000 per year. It would yield increased funding to the department without asking for additional millage and would help to offset the money lost through deregulation. Since Wells Township's budget will be reduced by $350,000 per year through deregulation by the end of the program, it is necessary, the fiscal officer reported.

In other matters, a resolution to proceed to place a 2-mill levy for emergency medical services on the November ballot was approved.

Police Chief John Ingram asked trustees to explain to the police officers present why a second levy is being put on the ballot in November to compete with the police levy replacement. The current police levy was for five years and is expiring. If not replaced or renewed, the department would be in jeopardy, with some officers losing their source of income, according to officials.

Trustee Joe Ellis said the fire department had asked for trustees' support to overcome problems with finding volunteers to man the emergency medical services at all hours.

Trustee Larry Owens said the timing is not the best with the police levy expiring and up for replacement, but the fire department had requested the levy so he would not deny the request.

Ingram said he thought by having both levies on the ballot at the same time, both are jeopardized. He also said he would like a continuous levy so the funding for the police department would not be in jeopardy every five years.

Cook said he did not want to place both levies on the ballot at once, but the police levy is expiring, and the fire department has made a good case for its need.

Ingram again noted he would like the police levy changed to a continuous one so this would not have to be done every five years.

Trustees unanimously approved for the police levy resolutions to read "for a continuing period of time" rather than five years and to file the change with the Jefferson County Board of Elections for the November ballot.

Police Capt. Sean Norman spoke and wanted everyone to know that the police department does not want an "us vs. them" feeling. He added the police officers are appreciative of the work that the fire department does and knows the firefighters feel the same.

A motion was approved to have a special meeting for the public to hear information about the proposed government aggregation electricity program at 6:30 p.m. today at the township office.

It also was decided to have a second hearing on the matter at 6:30 p.m. on July 23.

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