Mingo Junction officials "will have hard decisions to make" concerning the municipal budget, village Clerk John Angelica warned this week. That is putting it mildly.
Coming on top of ongoing fiscal challenges for the village, the collapse of RG Steel could in some ways be viewed as the straw that broke the village budget's back. Mingo Junction relied on the company and its mill in the village for a substantial amount of revenue, both directly and indirectly. The mill was a major customer of the municipal water treatment plant, and RG Steel's utility payments helped keep the system afloat.
Angelica's comment came during a village council meeting at which some good news was reported.
One nagging fear among town officials was that the village would not be able to make payments on the $7.69 million loan used to help finance a new water plant several years ago. But the Ohio Water Development Authority has offered to modify some terms of the bond agreement, giving what Angelica described as "a little breathing room" to the village.
Authority officials can extend the bond term, thus saving Mingo Junction about $46,000 a year in payments. Another benefit of the plan is that it would allow the village to skip payments altogether next year and make a smaller than usual semi-annual payment in January 2014. Regular semi-annual payments of $271,117 would resume in July 2014.
Indeed that will help. But the break will be only temporary, allowing village officials to devise a permanent solution to an enormous cash-flow problem resulting from the RG Steel bankruptcy and other fiscal challenges.
Village council members will need all the help they can get to keep the municipal budget in the black. One proposal has been to take $250,000 from a fund earmarked for the community complex, and use the money to pay general fund bills. If council proceeds, that action would have to be approved by a Common Pleas Court judge.
Should village officials decide to proceed with that plan, we urge it be approved in court. Again, Mingo Junction needs all the help it can get.