MINGO JUNCTION - Village Clerk John Angelica said the village could run out of money in the fall unless Village Council takes action to correct a shortage in revenue.
Council and village department heads met Tuesday with Angelica to review the budget and revenue.
Angelica said the village started the year with a $1.27 million general fund budget. Seven months into the year, the village already is down about $120,000 in income tax collections, mainly because of the shut down at RG Steel and village residents who were laid off at the coke plant in Follansbee. The water department may lose more than $100,000 in water sold to RG Steel because of bankruptcy proceedings.
Angelica said the village was expecting about $900,000 in revenue this year and council added a $300,000 carryover from last year's budget to make up the $1.2 million general fund budget. Angelica said council will have to cut at least $100,000 out of the budget before the end of the year.
"I'm scared hitting November and December, and the jar is empty. I don't think we will make this year's budget," he said.
One option discussed was to get Jefferson County Common Pleas Court approval to transfer some of the $450,000 sitting in the community complex fund. The fund was built up with proceeds from the income tax collections over the years.
Angelica said council should hold a public hearing on using the community complex money.
"I was totally against going after that money at one time, but I have changed my mind," he said.
Councilman James Morrocco said he only wants to tap the community complex fund as a "last-ditch effort."
Mayor Ronald DiCarlo said council has to have information ready before a public hearing is held. He said taking some of the money out of the community complex fund could be inevitable.
Angelica laid out other options, including putting departments under orders not to spend money unless it is necessary. He said council could take another look at the budget to see what can be trimmed. Angelica said the village may have to put a police and fire levy on the budget.
"If people want the services, they are going to have to pay," he said.
The uncertainty of the future of the steel mill in town plays a big part in the fiscal planning. Councilmembers said even if part of the mill reopens, it will be months, maybe next year, before the village receives any revenue.
Councilman John Bracone said council will have a good idea of what is happening with the mill by the end of the month, when Angelica wants to hold another meeting to discuss the village's financial condition.
Bracone noted council may have to cut even more money out of the general fund if part of the mill doesn't resume operations.
The water department won't meet its budget for the year because of the loss of revenue for water sold to RG Steel.
Village Administrator Frank Fuscardo said money owed by RG Steel for water bills prior to the bankruptcy filing will be lost but the village still can collect on the bills for water purchased post-bankruptcy.
The police department spending will end the year with a surplus, and the fire and sewer departments are running about even.
"We are between a rock and a hard spot and the squeeze is getting tighter every day," said Councilman John Fabian.
Angelica said council may have to meet every two weeks starting in September to discuss the budget.
"The actions need to be taken prior to the devastation point," Fabian said, adding he wants everything possible done prior to dipping into the community complex fund.
Police Chief Steve Maguschak said he needs to know if cuts will be made to the police department before he signs $125,000 Community Oriented Policing Services grant from the U.S. Justice Department. The grant will pay 75 percent of the cost of the patrolman's wages for three years. The village will have to pay all the wages for a fourth year under the C.O.P.S. grant agreement.
"We need to start thinking about what kind of village we want," Maguschak said.
Bracone said there definitely will be layoffs next year if the steel mill doesn't restart.