Mechanicsburg planning for future vehicle purchases

Village officials have decided to take a proactive approach toward replacing police, fire and EMS vehicles by creating funds dedicated to those purchases only.

During the June 1 Village Council meeting, Fiscal Officer Dan Eck said a Police Cruiser Fund and an Emergency Vehicle Fund have both been added to the village’s financial statements. He asked council to consider allowing him to transfer unused police funds from the General Fund, that were budgeted in 2014 but unused by Chief John Alexander, over to the newly created Police Cruiser Fund.

“It gives him incentive to be frugal to keep that number down,” Eck said. “I make the budget based on what I think they are going to spend. I don’t pad it for this.”

After discussing Eck’s request, council unanimously passed a motion transferring $11,939.94, the amount the police department came in under budget in 2014, from the General Fund to the Police Cruiser Fund.

“I think this is the right way to handle it,” Council member Christian Bradford said. “We know we are going to have to replace cruisers. They don’t last forever.”

Council also agreed to offer the same deal to the fire and EMS department allowing for any unused funds budgeted for the department to be transferred on a yearly basis from the General Fund to the Emergency Vehicle Fund.

Unknown accounts

Eck informed council that when he took over as fiscal officer years ago, the village’s cash balance statement contained line items for a Fire Building Fund and a Fire Trust Fund.

While the Fire Trust Fund shows a balance of $2,000, Eck said, the Fire Building Fund currently sits at a balance of $4,516, which is tied up in a certificate of deposit (CD).

“We don’t know anything about either fund as to what their purposes were or why they were set up,” he said.

Council member Bill Farley, the longest-tenured member, was asked if he could recall what the funds were originally created for.

“I think the Fire Trust Fund was set up to help the families if something happened to any of the firemen,” he said. “The Fire Building Fund sounds to me like for heaters or stuff like the roof over there (fire and EMS side of municipal building).”

Eck agreed to look through past audits for any clues as to what the funds are to be used for, and it was suggested he also try contacting former council members.

In other business:

•Council heard the second reading of a resolution to place before voters in November a 5-year, 2.5-mill levy for the replacement of fire and EMS vehicles.

•An ordinance adopting the village’s tax budget for fiscal year beginning Jan. 1, 2016, underwent a first reading.

Before the ordinance is adopted by council after three readings, village residents will be given the chance to weigh in on the matter during the annual tax budget public hearing set for 6 p.m. on July 6 at the municipal building.

•Eck, who also serves as chairman of Our Towne Mechanicsburg, asked council to consider waiving the village’s $150 fee per variance for the two welcome signs to be erected within village limits – one on North state Route 29 and one on West state Route 4.

Citing the fact Our Towne Mechanicsburg is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization – meaning it’s approved by the IRS as a tax-exempt, charitable organization – council unanimously passed a motion waiving the $300 in variance fees.