LEETONIA- With one more vehicle off the books, Village Council is slowly clearing away the village's debts and looking to expand its budget.
Council last week paid off a loan on an ambulance three years early, saving approximately $2,000 in interest. In the past two years, council has paid off loans early on several pieces of equipment and issues, including a back hoe, a street department truck, a fire truck and two cruisers, for an interest savings of between $25,000 to $30,000.
Council's commitment to debt elimination will be evident in the village's operation, according to Fiscal Officer Randy Chismar.
"It definitely helps with the operating budget, not as much going out in debt payment," he explained. "Anytime you get things paid off early it leaves extra in the budget. We'll be able to focus on operations-streets, fire, EMS."
Chismar said the village now only has two debt issues on the books- the sewer debt and the Salem-Leetonia water line project- the elimination of which could likely mean lower sewer and water rates for customers.
According to Chismar, the sewer debt sits at $410,654 in principal, $59,381 interest, and cannot be paid off early. It expires after 2014. The water line project sits at $427,183 principal and can be paid off early.
Council is working on legislation that will change the distribution percentage of sewer receipts, increasing the amount that will go toward operation and capital improvement since the current situation is raising enough money to pay off the sewer debt on time, Chismar said. The adjustment is being made because the debt cannot be paid off early he added, also noting that the extra funds for operation and capital improvement must be used for sewer line items and cannot be used to pay off the water line project.
Kevin Howell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org