Johnstown Village Council approved its 2011 budget Tuesday, authorizing total expenditures in the amount of $6.3-million, including general fund expenditures in the amount of $2-million.

Johnstown Village Council approved its 2011 budget Tuesday, authorizing total expenditures in the amount of $6.3-million, including general fund expenditures in the amount of $2-million.

After the general fund, the largest funds maintained by the village are $605,000 in water operations, $626,000 in sewer operations, $540,000 in sewer replacement fund, $441, 000 water debt service, $485,000 in sewer debt service and $132,000 in the water replacement fund.

Finance director Larry Heiser told council he planned to ask that the village establish a special fund to capture any unusually high estate tax collections for capital improvements.

"One of the first resolutions we'll have in 2011 will be that anything above our (projected) estate tax dollars, which is about $50,000, be moved into our capital projects fund, in the event we have a bumper year in the estate tax," Heiser said.

Council also approved water and sewer rates that Heiser had recommended previously.

"It's a straight 2 percent across the board increase (in water and sewer rates)," Heiser said.

The new rates are $29.50 for the first 2,000 gallons used and $15.50 for each additional 1,000 gallons. The rates include amounts that pay for water and sewer operations and water and sewer capital costs.

Heiser said the downtown area would require a significant amount of utility work before streets are redone during the coming year.

"There is a need to do a bunch of work on Main Street," Heiser said. "We want to do that before we redo the downtown, or next winter we'll be digging that up. That's a little bit of a change in focus for us. We hadn't quite realized that before we spoke with the engineers."

In other business, council passed a resolution reappointing law director David Wigginton, engineer W.E. Stilson Co. and prosecutor Mark Gardner to their positions in 2011. The state of Ohio will continue to serve as the village's auditor.

Heiser also advised council members that they should consider increasing the village income tax during the coming year.

"We may need to look at an income tax increase to get our general fund where it needs to be," Heiser said. "Our wages are pretty low. For us to increase those wages we need more revenue. I don't know what the top salary should be for a police officer in Johnstown, but when you have someone who has been here for seven years and is earning $17 an hour carrying a gun, doesn't seem to be very fair."

A significant amount of income tax revenue comes from employees who work in Johnstown but do not live here. Heiser said this is not necessarily a good tax policy, but it is the policy of the state of Ohio.

"The more onus we can put on people who work in the village instead of residents of the village, we're in better shape," Heiser said. "Of our $1.2-million in income tax revenue, roughly $660,000 of it came from people who work here, more than half of it.

"Whitehall recently passed a tax that affected 18 percent of its residents," he told council. "Most people are apt to vote a tax on somebody else, and that's a sad reality. We have a bad system in Ohio, but we have to work within the system we have, so let's pass a tax on people we can pass a tax on.

"We have a 1 percent income tax in Johnstown, and that's pretty low," Heiser said.

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