Village manager Sarah Phillips said Johnstown traditionally has a lean budget, but she called next year's finances "anorexic," during a village council budget workshop Tuesday evening.

Village manager Sarah Phillips said Johnstown traditionally has a lean budget, but she called next year's finances "anorexic," during a village council budget workshop Tuesday evening.

Council members took a first glance at the 2009 budget last week. It calls for no cost of living increases and no merit increases for village employees.

In addition, no overtime will be authorized for employees and a part-time employee in the Recreation Department will be eliminated for 2009.

An employee in the street department, who will retire at the end of March is expected to be replaced with a 30-hour per week employee. Additionally, Phillips said any vacancy that would occur in the Police Department would not be filled in 2009.

Finance director Sandra Berry said the village will continue to pay employee health insurance costs, which she noted is about the same as getting a raise.

The village's medical insurance coverage increased by 12 percent, and that's a low hike compared to other municipalities, Phillips said.

"Sarah and I look every year at a Health Savings Account (HSA) for employees," Berry said. "We could have gone with that."

She noted, however, that HSAs require more involvement from the employees.

Phillips said there are only two capital improvement projects scheduled for next year and that involves a loan project and a Community Development Block Grant out of the village's water improvement fund.

"The last streets in Rolling Meadows will be done next year and that's all," she said.

Ridgeview Drive, Ridgeview Court and Parkside are set to receive waterline improvements, curb and sidewalk improvements and street repaving.

The village originally planned to replace a vehicle in the police and water departments, but tight finances scrapped that plan. Plans to improve storm drainage at the Edwards Road and Oregon Street intersection have also been dropped for next year.

"It's a flat-line budget," Phillips said. "The only increase is for gas and utility costs."

Projected available funds for the village in 2009 total $8,225,627, with expenditures estimated at $6,395,185.

High fuel prices put a dent in the village's finances this year, and Berry said she could revisit the budget mid- year in 2009 to see if there could be room for a 1 or 2 percent cost of living increase. The possibility of that increase would be dependent on fuel prices staying at the current price of around $1.78 per gallon.

Council also discussed lowering its contribution to the Fourth of July Fireworks from $3,000 to $2,500.

"It informs them we can't do as we've done in the past," said council member Carol Van Deest.

Mayor Kevin Riffe praised Berry and Phillips for their work on the budget -- work he said was "hard to do."

He also asked about the progress of the new Johnstown Kroger to be located at 800 W. Coshocton St. in what's being called the Kyber Run Shopping Center.

Phillips said it would open in July 2009 if everything went perfectly, but she estimates October as a more likely estimate.

The village budget needs to be approved by Dec. 15, so council's second meeting of December has been moved to Tuesday, Dec. 9. Meetings begin at 7:30 p.m. in council chambers.