RUTLAND — The Village of Rutland will be holding a public informational meeting this Monday, Oct. 25, at 7 p.m. at the Rutland Civic Center.
The purpose of the meeting is reportedly to inform citizens and community stakeholders of the Village’s financial distress, impending cuts in public services and the need for more tax revenue.
Mayor Tyler Eblin is encouraging all residents, businesses owners and community organization leaders to attend, become informed, and ask questions. He plans to explain the budget deficit and its cause, the fiscal emergency process, services at risk of budget cuts, measures under consideration to increase tax revenue, and the future of the Village.
“The Village of Rutland has long suffered a fiscal crisis, and we’re nearing a pivotal moment in the town’s history where the actions we take now, or the lack thereof, will have an impact on our Village’s future, including crucial public services, such as police protection,” Eblin said. “We will be facing difficult decisions ahead, but I am hopeful that our community will be in a much better condition once it secures the revenue it needs to function and overcomes its budget deficit.”
According to Eblin, this deficit has caused the Village to meet the criteria for “fiscal emergency” status, and the Village is awaiting an official declaration by the Ohio Auditor of State once the current audit ends.
“Once declared to be in fiscal emergency, the Ohio Auditor of State will become the Village’s financial supervisor, and will essentially dictate how the Village spends its money,” Mayor Eblin explained. “It would not surprise me if the State Auditor prohibits the Village from spending more than the revenue generated from the police protection levy, and that is only $6,000. We all know this isn’t enough to operate a police department.”
Reportedly, a fiscal emergency declaration would remain in place until the Village corrected its general fund deficit. Village officials would also be required to prepare and submit a five-year recovery plan, which will be subject to State Auditor approval.
Mayor Eblin hopes to gain support for a supplemental tax levy and a Village income tax under consideration as a means to help the Village overcome the current deficit. He is hopeful the town hall meeting will help residents understand the need for such measures.
“No one wants to pay more taxes, but it is essential that everyone understands the cost of maintaining public services. We must have sufficient revenue to compensate for the expenditures,” said Mayor Eblin. “When you do not have the revenue needed, you either face the decision of shutting down services, or you hope that taxpayers will approve more tax revenue to keep those services running. Failure to do either will result in a budget deficit.”
The Mayor’s Office is open on Mondays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Mayor Eblin welcomes persons interested in discussing Village business to his office during regular hours, or by calling 740-742-2121 and scheduling an appointment.
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Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.