Monroeville takes steps to plug $100K hole

MONROEVILLE Monroeville officials hope wage freezes and a string of cuts will plug an anticipated &#
Cory Frolik
May 24, 2010



Monroeville officials hope wage freezes and a string of cuts will plug an anticipated $100,000 gap in the village's general fund budget.

Officials said because they started making cuts four years ago, the village is on much better financial footing than some neighboring municipalities.

"Compared to most villages and cities around here, we're in real good shape," said Councilman Bob Simon. "It was just cutting little things along the way, which all add up."

More little cuts are in the pipeline.

Bonnie Beck, village treasurer and clerk, said village council voted in October to freeze the wages of the 14 full-time and eight part-time employees on Monroeville's payroll in 2010.

Employees received a 3 percent raise at the beginning of 2009.

Hoping to shave off $12,000 more, council members voted Tuesday to also institute cost-saving changes that include eliminating Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Columbus Day as paid holidays, reducing the number of seasonal employees from three to one and slashing custodial hours.

Additionally, one of the larger changes council approved was reducing the hours of part-time police officers.

The police department has four full-time officers, three part-time officers who are used regularly and Chief Mike Ruggles.

There are also a few officers who respond only in emergencies.

The frequently used part-time officers have shifts mostly at night on weekends when the bars are hopping and the volume of traffic on the village's streets increases, Ruggles said.

Full-time officers usually work their shifts alone, but at the peak hours Fridays and Saturdays, part-time officers provide crucial backup in case of trouble, Ruggles said.

"It's the overlapping shifts they want to cut -- the double coverage -- but sometimes that's next to impossible," Ruggles said. "I think there's always an issue when officers are out there by themselves."

Apart from safety concerns, Ruggles also said reducing the hours of his part-time force could mean they won't earn enough money to make it worth their while.

Ruggles fears they will seek employment elsewhere.

Village council is also considering not replacing one of the two police cruisers next year, even though the vehicle has surpassed the 100,000-mile mark.

Police officers typically put 3,000 miles on the cruisers each month.

Major cuts to the village's trash pickup and consolidation of the phone bills has greatly reduced the general fund expenses in the last few years, Beck said.

General fund revenue comes from property tax, state tax, income tax and interest earnings.

But the upcoming year doesn't worry village officials like it does officials in adjacent areas.

"We have a stable budget and want to keep it that way," Beck said.