Bridgeport council approves Financial Recovery Plan

T-L Photo/CARRI GRAHAM Village of Bridgeport Mayor David Smith discusses the new plan to resolve the village’s state of fiscal emergency with members of council at Tuesday evening’s meeting.

BRIDGEPORT — Bridgeport Mayor David Smith submitted a plan to council Tuesday to resolve the village’s state of fiscal emergency within five years.

The village is $768,000 in debt between the general fund and street construction maintenance fund. Ohio Auditor of State Keith Faber’s office determined that Bridgeport’s fiscal condition had deteriorated to the point of fiscal emergency.

The purpose of the financial recovery plan is to identify steps that will be taken by the village to eliminate the fiscal emergency conditions identified in the auditor’s office’s analysis.

Accountant Justin Sloan worked with Smith to come up with the plan. Sloan explained the plan to members of council, saying he hopes it will put the village’s finances in the black after five years.

“The recovery plan for the village will serve as the road map for the village’s hopeful eventual discontinuation of the fiscal emergency situation,” Sloan said. “The plan was discussed through working session, it is for all intents and purposes the mayor’s recovery plan. The village council will vote whether to approve or disapprove it tonight. Once that happens … it will be presented to the fiscal emergency oversight commission and the oversight commission will have the authority to accept or reject the contents of the plan.”

According to Sloan, he, with Smith’s input, prepared a forecast for the village’s emergency funds. The plan calls for placing a 5-mill police levy on the May 2020 ballot, which is anticipated to generate $111,000 annually; additionally, a 1 percent income tax is to be enacted in August 2019, proceeds of which will go straight to the general fund. This is expected to bring in $250,000 annually after a ramp-up period of three years. Other recurring revenue is to be brought in by increasing fines for speeding, new business license fees and an increase in sanitation charges.

Additional one-time payments are also projected from oil and gas signing bonuses for leases on village property, renewing the village’s current oil and gas lease, and the sale of village property.

The plan will aid the village in resolving its fund deficit by 2023.

“You’re looking at a possible termination of fiscal emergency by December, 31, 2023, at the earliest. … The contents of this plan, once approved, will be binding for the village,” Sloan said.

The plan will have to be reviewed annually, or possibly more frequently, Sloan added.

Members of Bridgeport Village Council unanimously approved the resolution to accept the Financial Recovery Plan.

The Oversight Commission will review the plan on June 19, when it will accept or decline the plan.

“I am confident in all ends that through the work of Mr. Sloan … and council and everyone else, that this is a viable option. We just have to live by it. This is your menu for the next five years,” Smith said.

In other matters, a group of residents, led by Tim and Anna Smith, plans to clean up parts of the Bridgeport Weeks Cemetery on Sunset Heights. Smith said the cemetery is in dire need of attention.

“The cemetery is in horrid condition. … The whole thing is disrespectful and out of control, so I got some people together, a real good response so far. … We’re going to get together and we’re going to clean (the cemetery) up,” Smith said.

A group of volunteers will gather at 8 a.m. June 29 to cut, trim and rake as much of the grass as they can.

The village will lend equipment to the volunteers to aid in their efforts. The group still is in need of landscaping supplies and manpower.

The group is looking for additional volunteers to aid in the clean up. All are welcome to participate in the efforts.

“If you can help, we would greatly appreciate your support,” Smith said.

Smith called the cleanup efforts the Village of Bridgeport Community Involvement Initiative. The mayor asked Tim Smith to co-chair the initiative, which he accepted.

For further information on the cemetery clean-up, contact Tim Smith at 740-359-6436.