By Kristin Rover
The village of Bethel was officially released from fiscal emergency status Oct. 17.
Village council members, along with members of the Financial Planning and Supervision Commission, met during a joint special meeting to announce the news.
“This is an important day for the village of Bethel,” Sharon Hanrahan, a member of the commission representing the Ohio Office of Budget and Management, said.
The Financial Planning and Supervision Commission, which is made up of state and village officials, was formed after the state declared that the village was in fiscal emergency in 2010.
At the time, former mayor James Dick said the village had more than $400,000 in debt across four funds.
In December of 2011, Dick announced to council members that they had make significant process on eliminating the debt and rebuilding their fund balances.
Hanrahan said the village has responded to all of the comments and suggestions of the commission and has met all of the requirements necessary to be released from fiscal emergency.
“This has been one of the best commissions I’ve worked with,” Hanrahan said about the village.
Hanrahan said village officials were eager to make changes and do whatever was necessary to be removed from fiscal emergency.
She said the village officials eliminated fiscal emergency conditions, put into effect a five-year financial recovery plan as well as a five-year forecast and continues to look ahead to potential challenges.
Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost attended the meeting to present council members with a certificate to announce their accomplishment.
“I am here to congratulate you,” Yost said during the meeting. “We are very proud of the work you’ve done.”
Yost commended village officials for having the courage to dramatically cut expenditures and make tough financial decisions.
Yost said one of the most effective ways they corrected their finances was to keep expenditures at 85 percent of their revenue.
He encouraged village officials to continue to keep a careful watch on their finances including the monthly and quarterly revenues and expenditures as well as the five-year forecast.
“I am confident that that is exactly what you are going to do,” Yost said.
Bethel Mayor Alan Ausman thanked Yost for being at the meeting and thanked many of the people involved in getting the village back on track.
“I want to thank Bill Gilpin for his dedication and endless hours of work,” Ausman said about the village’s fiscal officer. “It was a brave move to come to a municipality in fiscal emergency.”
Ausman also thanked village administrator Travis Dotson for his work and for his calm attitude about getting out of fiscal emergency.
“There were sacrifices and it hasn’t always been pleasant,” Ausman said about the process.
He thanked council members for their hard work and thanked residents for being understanding throughout the process.
“Thank you,” Ausman said. “It is a great day here in the village of Bethel.”