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Coventry trustees adopt 2013 budget

3/28/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Emily Chesnic

COVENTRY — It took numerous meetings spanning several months, but Coventry Township now has an official budget in place for 2013.

During a special meeting March 21, the Board of Trustees approved permanent appropriations totaling a little more than $6 million for all funds.

Fiscal Officer Joni Murgatroyd said the 2012 appropriations were about $7 million in 2012. However, the budget afforded the township to purchase a new fire tender and a Gradall excavator for the Road Department last year, she said.

Earlier this month, Board Chairman Dave Calderone explained the township is faced with financial restraints, as are most municipalities in Ohio.

He said the board specifically would be taking a closer look soon at the current levies that are in place.

“We are still experiencing declining revenues and are relying on our cash carryovers to sustain the departments due to the reduced property revaluations and the accelerated phase-out of the tangible tax that affected all of our levies,” Murgatroyd explained. “Only one levy was not affected by the reduced property revaluations since it was passed in 1992 and renewed since that time.”

Currently, the township is spending more than it receives through the current levies in places and using cash carryover to offset these deficits, she said.

“To maintain services at their current levels as much as possible, we are currently in deficit spending in our levy funds,” Murgatroyd said.

In 2012, the board debated seeking an increased fire/EMS levy but decided to try for a renewal of the 2.25-mill fire/EMS levy instead in light of recent failed attempts to increase other levies’ amounts, she explained.

Voters approved the renewal last fall, but the board decided to transfer $150,000 from the General Fund to the township’s 4.65-mill fire/EMS levy to help make ends meet, Murgatroyd said.

The total planned transfer for 2013 to that levy fund is $325,000, she said.

“We will be addressing these issues over the next year very closely,” she said.

Murgatroyd and Calderone have said the financial status of the township would be reported on throughout the year during the board’s regular meetings.

Coventry also had to take state cuts into consideration when planning this year’s budget.

“As I have been reporting over the last several years, our General Fund has been severely impacted due to the local government funding cuts and the elimination of the estate tax effective January 2013. Although I support the elimination of the estate tax for the benefit of residents, it did provide another source of income that helped us provide services without asking for more property taxes,” Murgatroyd said.

She added that interest revenues have been strongly impacted due to the present state of the economy.

“We have always been conservative in our spending and have utilized grants wherever possible to offset costs to our residents for capital purchases, road/drainage improvements and even fill staffing for the Fire/EMS Department,” she said.

According to Murgatroyd, the board plans to report further on the budget at the next trustees’ meeting, which is set for April 11 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, 68 Portage Lakes Drive.

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