The capital ordinance, most of which is funded through a bond issuance, fills requests from heads of various municipal departments, channeled through the village manager and finance office before being presented to the council for consideration.
Resurfacing of several village streets comprised the most significant chunk of the bond ordinance, totaling $1.05 million. Funds for new vehicles also represented a large portion, with more than $1 million going toward the purchase of two new packer trucks for sanitation and recycling, an ambulance, and a log hauling truck for the parks department, among others.
Officials said that the vehicle purchases were needed to replenish a depleting fleet, and avoid potentially expensive private contracts.
Some of the large expenditures, such as the final payment of $84,000 for the ambulance, are made in increments over multiple years, “like a savings account,” Acting Village Manager Heather Mailander said, so that a big cost in one department doesn’t crowd out requests from others.
There was little discussion from the dais prior to the final vote, but the one resident who spoke during the required public hearing questioned the bundling of the capital expenses.
“I am a person in favor of having each department coming to the council at a public meeting, present what they need, and then you vote it up or down,” said Roger Wiegand, who questioned officials on most line items in the ordinance.
Deputy Mayor Albert Pucciarelli didn’t disagree.
Citing prior discussions on the council and in the village’s new financial advisory committee, he suggested that, as in a private business, the capital budget and regular operating budget be more closely linked to better account for the annual depreciation of equipment.
“The true costs of our operations are not reflected” within the two separate budgets, he said.
Pucciarelli suggested that, in the future, the capital budget be considered during the same process as the operating budget, which generally sees more scrutiny with department heads coming before the council over the course of multiple hearings.
“The process was not nearly as rigorous as it was for the operating budget,” he said.
Other costs included in the capital budget passed Wednesday night were funds for pollution control, public safety and security equipment. The council also approved capital ordinances of $2.1 million for Ridgewood Water and $368,000 for the parking utility.