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Lisbon sees revenues fall, spending cut

LISBON — Village operating income is down despite an increase in the municipal income tax, but that has been offset by efforts to curtail spending in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Village fiscal officer Tracey Wonner reported at this week’s council meeting all departments have spent a combined $1.3 million as of May 31, compared to $1.4 million over the same period last year. The general fund offices, which take in almost every department but water and sewer, accounted for $67,000 of the $100,000 spending reduction.

Wonner said they asked department heads to hold the line on spending because of the financial uncertainly resulting from the pandemic and they have responded.

The only area of concern is the village income tax, which is the general fund’s largest source of revenue. Collections are about $30,000 behind last year despite the income tax being increased from 1.5 percent to 2 percent starting in January.

Wonner said it is too early to tell if this trend will continue because the federal tax filing deadline was extended to July 15 due to the pandemic. Not only that, but the village sent letters to 15 businesses and/or government agencies in town that had yet to begin deducting the increase from their workers’ paychecks.

“These two factors lead me to believe we’ll be okay,” she said.

In response to potential economic fallout from the pandemic, council closed the community pool for the summer, scaled back its annual resurfacing program and postponed promised pay raises to the police department and other village employees.

Despite the village’s best efforts to save money, some expenses cannot be deferred. Faced with inoperable backhoes in the street and water departments, council agreed to spend the money to get them running again.

Councilman Jerry Cox said it would cost a maximum of $8,000 to purchase the necessary parts, plus another $3,000 on labor. Wonner recommended they make the repairs rather than hire an excavator to do the work, as was suggested.

“If we don’t fix it you will spend more than $11,000 to contract out for backhoe services,” she said.

“I agree it’s a lot of money, but we need to have a backhoe,” councilwoman Susan Temple added.

Board of Public Affairs chairman Bill Hoover said they would pay for the work on the water department backhoe. “We have leaks pretty regularly, and it’s cheaper to keep this one going,” he said.,

Cox also said he would like to give the bathrooms at the fire department a facelift as part of an ongoing upgrade of the 70-year-old building. Councilman Ryan Berg said it was at least worth exploring because there is money in the budget for the upgrades.

Cox, who estimated it would cost $7,400, said he would check with the trustees from Center and Elkrun townships, which contract with the village for fire protection services. Under the contract, certain expenses are split three ways, but officials did not say if this was one of those.

Council also adopted a resolution to work with the local affiliate of the North Country Trail Association to have Lisbon designated a NCTA Town. This requires no commitment, financial or otherwise from the village, and all they could do is work with the NCTA in promoting Lisbon as a community with amenities that would attract through hikers, such as restaurants, microbreweries, laundromats and a hotel.

The NCTA runs from North Dakota to Vermont and passes through Ohio and Columbiana County.

tgiambroni@mojonews.com

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