Budget Dilemma

FISCAL YEAR 2013 looms ominously for the village of Bellaire. Financial challenges loom in the All-American Town.

Village council passed its temporary appropriations budget for 2013 during last week’s council meeting. It did so with potential financial issues on the horizon.

The temporary budget will enable the village to operate though the end of March. At the crux of the matter is funding for the safety forces.

The general fund budget total is $963,867. Of that total, the police department total is $455,440. While that is a large portion of the budget, the police department provides the village with superb service despite its manpower shortages. Moreover, the police department has gone years without a pay raise.

While Bellaire’s general fund is in a perilously low state, carrying over just $24,400, the other funds are in much healthier condition. The street department has an $81,000 carryover balance, the water department boasts a $123,000 carryover while the sanitation department checks in with a $68,500 carryover.

Such is the nature of the budgetary beast. The general fund is not a revenue-generating fund, surviving on tax money.

Consequently, Bellaire’s governmental leaders are dealing with basically two options to avert a general fund crisis. One is a spike in tax yield or reducing services.

The former hopefully comes to fruition, as we are totally against a reduction of services. The police force is already handcuffed enough.

Bellaire already imposes a 1-percent income tax. It is unlikely village voters would pass a tax increase. History shows levies encounter tough sledding in the Al-American Town.

Counting on increased tax revenue is a crapshoot, although Bellaire took in $735,000 in tax dollars. That was $35,000 more than was projected.

Making Bellaire’s plight even more difficult is the cuts in local government funding that have been mandated out of Columbus, the impacts of which have reverberated throughout smaller communities across the Buckeye State.

We urge Bellaire leaders not to cut village services. The residents have dealt with enough of shortcomings.

That being the case, the village must become more aggressive and passionate in attracting new businesses to town. We realize such is no easy task.

It was not too long ago that Martins Ferry was dealing with similar financial hardships. Ferry is now enjoying a renaissance. We hope Bellaire can follow suit.