East Palestine may further delay repayment to electric trust fund

EAST PALESTINE With a decision still up in the air regarding payback to the village’s electric trust fund, Village Council may decide to suspend payments at least another two years.

Councilman and Finance Committee Chairman Jim Tyger said Monday the village can’t afford to make payments to the fund right now.

“We need that money in the budget,” he said.

Council was presented with legislation in January that would suspend payback to the fund another five years. The village first passed legislation suspending payback in 2002, and again in 2008. Each time was for five-year increments.

Council opted to table the new legislation in February and Tyger resurrected the discussion this week since a decision is needed before the start of the new year.

He requested the legislation be amended to suspend payments at least two years. The fund will still receive revenue from the sale of lots at Leslie Run Estates.

Finance Director Traci Thompson said the village allowed for that revenue to be put into the fund through separate legislation, and that has been done over the years.

Two lots were recently sold, earning at least more than $20,000 in revenue for the fund, she added.

The fund also receives revenue from tap-in fees for the lift station at the Vineyards. The fees are $750 each and Thompson said $1,500 was generated from two new users.

Councilman Fran Figley asked exactly how much the lots sold for and Thompson said she did not have the figures immediately available but would present them at the next meeting.

She also said money was put back into the fund on an annual basis before payback was suspended.

The village began borrowing from the fund several years ago to cover expenses in the water, sewer, street and general fund. The borrowing was approved by past councils on the stipulation any money taken would be paid back.

Payback stopped when the village ran out of money to put into the fund because of covering other operational expenses.

The fund was established in 1974 as a result of the $3.08 million sale of the light plant to Ohio Edison. It is now down to roughly $30,000.

After the meeting Smith said she would revise the legislation to suspend payback two years and it will be put before council for a vote.