Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chester Township Government Update
April 3, 2014 by Staff Report | No Comments

On March 15, Chester Township Trustees held a special meeting. The primary purpose of the meeting was to review and discuss changes to each department's…

On March 15, Chester Township Trustees held a special meeting.

The primary purpose of the meeting was to review and discuss changes to each department’s 2014 budget, which resulted from public work sessions over the past six weeks.

Outputs from this meeting were used to finalize the 2014 appropriations for presentation to the board at the March 20 public meeting.

After some discussion, the board, by majority vote, decided not to continue membership in the Chagrin River Watershed Partners.

Other business included approval of a truck repair and weed control on two township-owned ponds that are a water supply for the township’s fire department.

On March 20, the board held a regular public meeting. At the start of the meeting, Sheriff Dan McClelland gave a presentation on what services the Geauga County Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with Lake County Sheriff’s Office, can provide Chester Township. These services include hostage negotiations, SWAT and canine bomb detection.

This information is being used to decide whether Chester Township should continue membership in the Valley Enforcement Group at an annual membership cost of about $7,000 to Chester Township.

Each department head provided a summary of budget changes and highlights with respect to major line items of their budgets. For each department, salaries are the major expense. 2014 worker’s compensation costs for the township increased approximately 80 percent versus 2013, to about $93,000.

Because of injury history, Chester Township is no longer in a group rating program and therefore its worker’s compensation costs have risen dramatically. Workplace safety is expected to be a major focus in 2014 and future years.

Police Chief Mark Purchase explained some adjustments (reductions) to salaries with a focus on controlling overtime. His goal is to have 2014 actual expenditures come within 95 percent of 2014 appropriations.

The fire department 2014 appropriations are slightly less than 2013, in part, because there is one less pay period in 2014 than 2013.

Fire Chief John Wargelin explained some expenditures, including refurbishment of an EMS squad and water chute repairs for the tanker are being paid for from the EMS fund which are non-levied dollars collected from insurance company billings for EMS services provided. EMS billing generated about $237,000 in revenue in 2013.

Road Superintendent Rob Pealer provided a pamphlet summarizing the Pavement Preservation Plan for Chester Township.

Due to a reduction in estate taxes and local government funding (about $600,000 annually), supporting the road department asphalt resurfacing program with general fund dollars is not sustainable.

The short-term goal is to focus limited resources on preservation of top rated roads, which in the long term is more cost-effective than resurfacing.

For 2014, trustees are appropriating $170,000 from the general fund along with two of the townships three available inside-mils to help support the road department’s 2014 plan.

Several minor adjustments were made and the board unanimously voted to approve 2014 appropriations in the amount of $5.9 million, which is a 4 percent decrease over 2013 actual expenditures.

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