CONNEAUT – In light of public claims by Charles Michalos that the City of Conneaut has been over-collecting for the Street Light Fund since the street light assessment began in 2009, Conneaut Finance Director John Williams wants to set the record straight.
“What he said was inaccurate,” Williams said, of Michalos’ public comments before Conneaut City Council on Jan. 9 and 23, accusing the city of enacting unneeded street light assessments. “I’ve talked to Charlie before about the city’s financial issues, and given him the requests he’s wanted, but he’s never asked me for information on street lights.”
Rather than over-collecting, the city has ended every year with the Street Light fund in the negative, pulling from the General Fund to pay the year-end obligations.
“Or we have delayed the payment until a new city budget has been passed,” Williams said.
At the end of 2016, the Street Light fund was more than $3,000 in the red, due in part to $7,000 in repairs last year to wiring, photo sensors, light bulbs and more.
The city’s 2016 budget relied on about $31,000 in income tax revenue and $124,000 in street light assessments to deposit into the Street Light Fund.
But the roughly $156,000 collected was shy of the $159,000 total Street Light fund expenditures.
Conneaut City Council approved pulling money from the General Fund to keep the Street Light Fund in the black, then approved a 50-cent hike in the $2 monthly street light assessment starting in 2017.
Williams said that whatever report used by Michalos in his public statements does not show the full effect of street light funding.
“All the expenses are not in there because they come out of every fund,” Williams said. “We are paying for it using other line items because there has not been sufficient money. Expenses coming out of the fund are not just the electric bill but lights, maintenance, construction and new lights. We don’t even have enough money in there for usage, let alone repairs and maintenance.”
Williams further stated that the city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report is posted on the Auditor of State’s web site.
Williams may give another overview of the Street Light fund at Council’s Feb. 13 meeting.
“I don’t want people to get the wrong impression. I may explain again to say here’s where we are, and here’s how much we were short,” Williams said.