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Council president, mayor look for alternatives to pay for some or all of $800,000 trash service

Goshen council president proposes cuts to help pay for trash service.

Posted on Oct. 16, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

GOSHEN — After expressing his aversion to dipping into the rainy day fund to pay the full cost of trash removal at Tuesday’s city council meeting, council president Tom Stump wasted no time in listing cuts to the budget that could help cover that cost.

Late last week, Stump sent a preliminary letter to Mayor Allan Kauffman detailing several areas he believed could be eliminated in order to pay for some if not all of the $800,000 trash pickup service.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, some concern was raised from several council members about paying for trash removal with only rainy day funds while the city discusses how best to handle the service in the future.

Stump believes that the council would possibly be open to using some rainy day funds to cover the cost, but that he didn’t think using only those funds was the right decision.

In his letter to Kauffman, Stump outlined potential cuts that could make up to nearly $265,000 available to help pay for trash services.

Some of the cuts listed include eliminating positions in the building department, part-time ordinance administrators and the city forester, while also leaving vacant positions in the street and parks departments that Kauffman wished to fill this year.

Stump’s motivation for making cuts to the budget is two-pronged. He doesn’t want to use rainy day funds for trash pickup if possible, but also believes residents should not have to pay for the service either.

“I think that it’s legitimate for (residents) to expect that with the amount of property taxes they pay,” he explained.

Kauffman, however, believes the cuts listed are not the correct way for the city to go about covering trash removal.

“Can we do that? Yeah, but I don’t think it’s good for the community to cut those,” Kauffman said. “I thought those were all justified expenses,” he added.

All told, Stump said he would be comfortable with using rainy day funds to cover only about 30 percent of the total cost for the service.

“I would not like to see us use any more than $250,000” of rainy day funds to pay for trash removal, he said.

Kauffman, for his part, countered Stump’s suggestions Monday in a message of his own.

His proposal offered two adjustments that could potentially allow $450,000 to be allocated for the service.

The first adjustment Kauffman outlined was to appropriate the estimated $250,000 surplus at the end of 2012 to the Board of Works line in the budget.

Kauffman admitted in his letter, however, that there are some risks to this proposal. If circuit breakers are higher than estimated, if more than 95 percent of major budgets are spent, or if tax collection is lower than 95 percent, that appropriation may not be as high.

The other suggestion Kauffman offered involves diverting property taxes from the cumulative capital sewer fund to the general fund. Kauffman noted the current budget proposes replenishing part of what has been spent on improvements with about a $200,000 property tax levy raised through the cumulative tax rate. He added, however, that the property tax levy has been diverted to other funds in the past in a similar fashion.

Kauffman hopes the $450,000 in adjustments “will get us far enough into 2013 that, depending on outcome of resident-council discussions, it is possible that no rainy day funds would be needed, depending on what the council’s decision is on how to fund the balance.”

Discussion of the budget will continue between Kauffman and the council and the second reading of the 2013 budget will occur at the council’s next scheduled meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 23.

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