Rayland officials ponder ways to balance budget

RAYLAND – Budget balancing options continue to be explored in Rayland where some action in this direction was taken in late November.

During this week’s meeting of village council, possible options of lowering the fire protection contract amount paid to the fire department and disbanding the police department were discussed.

The options are under consideration in order to balance the general fund budget. A 3-mill levy for current expenses was defeated in the Nov. 6 election.

Council took action in late November after Village Administrator Rich Bibbo suggested several possible cost-saving measures. As a result, council at that time adopted an ordinance on an emergency basis providing for a $4 monthly streetlight fee with the fee to be placed on residents’ utility bills. Also, it was decided to increase the park rental fee from $45 to $50.

Options listed by Bibbo in November were the possibilities of deannexing the Narrows Road section of the village, turning off half of the village’s 56 streetlights, lowering the amount paid to the fire department for fire protection, disbanding the Rayland Police Department, reducing maintenance of the village’s parks, raising the park rental fee, instituting a monthly streetlight fee, implementing a village income tax, instituting a yearly fire protection fee and closing the municipal building.

Councilwoman Candy Bibbo this week said she is in favor of cutting the fire department funding in half and disbanding the police department.

After Councilwoman Carolyn Tolonese asked about the exact cost-saving of deannexing the Narrows Road, the village administrator said Solicitor Joseph Vavra is checking the way to legally proceed in this matter.

Councilman Roger Beck asked about the legality of disbanding the police department and if this was done, whether the village would have to enter into a contract with another law enforcement department.

Beck also said of the options being discussed, no one has been able to answer the questions with certainty.

Mayor Tammy Morelli said she would call Vavra and get answers regarding legalities in regard to disbanding the police department and the legal process needed to deannex the Narrows Road. She added that she would have answers by the next council meeting so decisions could be made.

Beck asked if the village had put grass-cutting fees onto property owners’ taxes when village workers cut grass on private property.

The mayor and the village administrator both responded that all grass-cutting on private properties was done by volunteers not village workers.

Fiscal Officer Rick Soos said in order to assess grass-cutting fees, a resolution must be approved by council and the fees assessed in September. He added that if there were any fees that should have been assessed in September 2012, these can be assessed in September of next year.

In other matters, Village Administrator Bibbo reported Schultz Excavating had picked up and delivered the village’s allotment of road salt from Jefferson County, and the village now has approximately 25 tons of salt.

He also said the street department’s dump truck had to be towed to Naylor’s Garage to have the brakes repaired. The brakes have been repaired, and the truck is back in service.

Councilwoman Bibbo said a note had been left on her door, requested that all cars be off Main Street for the Christmas parade Saturday.

The village’s sanitation rate will remain at $14 a month per household for the next three years, because Waste Management did not increase the rate received from the village.

Pokas can be reached at bettypokas@yahoo.com.