LAKEMORE Mayor Rick Justice, council members, former council members and residents attended the long awaited final meeting of the Village of Lakemore Financial Planning and Supervision Commission on Nov. 10.
The meeting was held to release the village from state mandated fiscal emergency. Lakemore entered fiscal emergency August 31, 2010 and Justice and council members had requested a release during the Feb. 3, 2016, commission meeting.
At that time, Lakemore had completed nearly of the items needed, with only some policy and procedures remaining. The State Auditor's Office then began the preparation of the termination report and the process for release.
Issues that put the village in fiscal emergency included a deficit in fund balances of $839,450 and a treasury fund deficit of $584,532, as of May 31, 2010.
Nita Hendricks, from Local Government Services said, "It is a great day in Lakemore," as she began her report to the commission.
More than six years ago, a report on accounting methods was done on Lakemore that detailed deficiencies. In the beginning, there were 30 comments that needed to be completed.
"They have all been completed," said Hendricks.
That was step one to get out of fiscal emergency. Step two was making sure that the village no longer met any of the conditions that put it in fiscal emergency - deficit funds and low cash.
In order to be removed from fiscal emergency, Hendricks said the village had to present a financial plan to determine if the remaining objectives have been met. Those objectives were to eliminate the fiscal conditions determined by the auditor of state, balance the budgets, avoid future deficits, develop an effective financial accounting and reporting system and prepare a financial forecast for a five-year period in accordance with the standards issued by the auditor.
Hendricks reported on expenses for the village pointing out that all the fund balances are in the black.
"That is telling you that the village is spending less than it is bringing in, which is always a good thing - revenues exceed expenditures," she said. "The village has worked very hard and sacrificed a lot."
Unice Smith, chief of local government services said, on behalf of auditor Dave Yost, she was there to officially remove the fiscal emergency status from the Village of Lakemore. She congratulated officials on a job well done and commended them on the tough decisions they had to make through the years to restore the financial status.
"I encourage you, as you move forward, to refer to the forecast, make sure your expenditures are within the revenues and if you do that, I can assure you that I will never have to come again on behalf of Dave Yost and this commission will not have to come again," said Smith, who presented a plaque to Justice, Fiscal Officer Tracy Fast and Council President Rich Cole.
"When we were first being placed in fiscal emergency, it was not a good thing, but we turned it around and looked at it in a positive way, that we were going to work with the state and make it happen," Justice said. "The goal was to be out of fiscal emergency in seven years, but it took six years and four months."
He thanked all involved, but most importantly, the residents.
"They were the ones that sacrificed with us," Justice said. "They suffered through the tax credit reduction. We had to lower employees so they had less services. We couldn't get to the roads and then, they came back and voted for a fire levy."
Justice said the fire levy, which took fire costs out of the general fund, is a big reason the village is out of fiscal emergency.
Council promised residents the tax credit would be reinstated to 100 percent once the village was out of fiscal emergency. Justice said that is what officials will be working on next.
Cole thanked the residents on behalf of the elected officials for their patience.
"We have turned the corner and today is evidence of that," he said. "Thank you for supporting us and believing in us."
Treasurer for Springfield Schools and commission member Chris Adams said it all came to this day and it is a proud day for Lakemore.
"This is a special little community," Adams said.
Fast thanked the residents and the employees, "this has been a teamwork effort. I am ecstatic now that we have dug out of our hole, we can move forward and be the progressive village."
Once the paperwork was signed, the village officially was released from fiscal emergency.
Justice spoke about new businesses that have come into the village during the last few years. He also spoke about the future of the Edwin Shaw building, which is will be demolished Dec. 1. Justice said there are people interested in bringing businesses to that property.
"We are not looking to pass new levies or increase taxes, we are out to get new businesses," Justice said.