Brookfield Township trustees have approved a 2021 budget that is very similar to 2020’s.
The budget sets an expectation of receipts through taxes and fees of $3,763,425, up from $3,704,840.
The township also carried over $1,325,974 (up from $1,044,064). That money is what gets the township through the first quarter of the year as tax receipts typically don’t start coming in until April.
The budget does not include any new federal money to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The new stimulus package includes money for local governments, but townships were not included in the final wording that defined “local governments,” and there is an effort to make townships eligible, said Trustee Dan Suttles. Brookfield could be in line for more than $1 million, by some estimates, if townships are included.
Last year, the township received more than $520,000 in COVID-related funds.
The budget does not reflect a change in the lighting assessment, and officials expressed that as an area of concern. Actually, they have said that for more than two years.
Residents who live within lighting districts pay an assessment on their taxes, which is collected by the county and sent to the township to pay the electric bills for street lights and auditing and treasurer fees.
The pace of revenue has fallen behind the pace of expenses. For 2021, the budget shows collections of $19,500, and a $6,701 in carryover from previous years, a total of $26,201 available. For the last five years, the annual electric bills have averaged $29,788, said Fiscal Officer Dena McMullin.
“We’re gonna be short,” she said.
Township officials have expressed frustration at the inability to set up a meeting with Ohio Edison to talk about the assessments and get a handle on expected expenses going forward. Then, they have to talk to the Trumbull County auditor about resetting the assessments, McMullin said.
“I don’t understand why we’re not, I mean, we need to get a meeting with that lady or somebody else with Ohio Edison,” Trustee Gary Lees said, referring to a past contact at Ohio Edison. “We’re making the effort, and we need to make some adjustments there so we don’t run in the red there.”
Suttles said the street lighting assessments need to be a priority for the township.
“When you get into this light assessment, you keep saying we’re gonna be in trouble there,” he said. “I don’t care if we have to chase this person down from OE (Ohio Edison) and talk to them. Somebody’s gotta do it.”
The trustees said they are especially frustrated because they have seen news coverage of Ohio Edison working with other Trumbull County communities on their street lighting programs, including systematically replacing street lights with LED bulbs that use less electricity, something the trustees would like to look into.
Here is a breakdown of the major fund appropriations in Brookfield Township’s 2021 budget, with 2020 numbers in parentheses:
- General fund, $534,404 ($628,196.)
- Motor vehicle license tax, which goes to the Brookfield Road Department, $86,159 ($99,130.)
- Gasoline tax, which goes to the road department, $216,806 ($242,644.)
- Road and bridge fund, $328,293 ($271,271.)
- Cemetery fund, $96,571 ($156,732.)
- Lighting assessment fund, $26,201 ($36,058.)
- Police district fund, $954,460 ($954,260.)
- Fire district fund, $1,070,950 ($944,427.)
- Ambulance and emergency service fund, which goes to the Brookfield Fire Department, 378,700 ($334,750.)
- Senior citizen van fund, $2,021 ($14,616.)
- Community park improvement fund, $12,055 ($12,055.)