Get finances in order

What else hasn’t been handled properly in Bellaire municipal government?

That question may be on the minds of some residents — as it should be, in view of news from the Village Council meeting last week.

It was revealed during the meeting that for 15 years, no one in the water department bothered to read meters showing how much water was being used by Belmont County Housing Authority facilities in the municipality. The authority was billed only at base usage rates.

That cost the village about $200,000. Reportedly, the authority has been billed for that amount.

Officials there — who, by the way, appear to be blameless for the mistake — have every right to balk at being asked to pay for such a longstanding failure by the village.

It is to be hoped some of the money can be collected, however. Village government needs all the financial help it can get.

It is the water department, in fact, that may be the biggest financial burden the city needs to deal with. Outdated equipment and the need to comply with state and federal mandates means the department likely will need to raise rates in order to cover costs of needed upgrades.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Village leaders have discussed disbanding the police and sanitation departments in order to cut costs. No action has been taken on those matters, but it may be necessary in the future.

It appears that for years, multiple matters related to village finances were handled in a shoddy manner. The $200,000 water department lapse may take the cake, however.

Or it may not. In view of the incredible nature of that failure,

Bellaire officials might be well served to bring in an outside consultant to discover what other costly errors have been made.