City Council begins budget review

By Sheryl Roadcap -

This pie chart shows where general fund expenditures go in the Sidney city budget.

This pie chart shows where general fund expenditures go in the Sidney city budget.

SIDNEY — Sidney City Council began its review of the 2019 budget, Monday night, which proposes total expenditures (minus capital spending) of $50 million, including capital outlay and debt service. Next year’s operating budget is about $29.66 million.

Total expenditures are budgeted to be 11 percent less than this year’s total of $56.2 million.

“The majority of that decrease is capital outlay, and that’s simply the timing of capital projects. Primary it’s because in 2018, we had appropriations for water source property acquisitions and for phase two of the sewer improvements,” Finance Officer Ginger Adams explained in her budget report to council.

Next year’s operating budget is 2.3 percent greater than the 2018 total of $29 million. Fee increases next year are in the range of 1 to 4 percent.

The average family of four can anticipate a 2.63 percent increase in its monthly utility bill, from $111 in 2018 to $114 in 2019. Low-volume users may see their bills increase by 2.45 percent, from about $55 to $56.50.

Adams said key budget assumptions include:

• Conservative estimate of income tax collections in accordance with financial policies;

• Modest inflation rates;

• Capital and staffing the same as the city’s five-year plan;

• Minimum cash reserves achieved in all funds;

• Wage Scale adjustments of 2 percent and step increases for those not at the top of the scale;

• Fringe benefits capped at 6 percent health insurance premium increase for next year’s renewal.

Next year, the city plans to add 1.27 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff, a including a full-time street traffic equipment operator, part-time help for a police evidence/property room clerk, maintenance help at Shelby Public Transit, the municipal court and police grant-funded positions, as well as biennial hydrant painting and triennial curb painting. Also, if ridership dictates the need, Adams said, a part-time transit driver will be added. This would bring the total city staff to 229 FTE, which is 6 percent below the 243 FTE of 2008 when the recession forced the city to lay off employees.

In closing, Adams summarized the 2018 budget with the following points:

• Continue to monitor for significant changes in income taxes, state-shared revenues.

• Manage significant changes in expenditures, such as additional staffing if State Issue 1 passes.

• Continue to monitor/manage significant capital projects, including:

– About $3 million of roadway repairs/reconstructions.

– Nearly $2.7 million of sewer plant and sewer distribution system improvements.

– Approximately $1.3 million of water plant and line replacements.

– Next phase of design/engineering for fire station 3, if the levy passes.

Council also heard budget review presentations on the Sidney Municipal Court from Clerk Bonnie Gold and the police department from Chief Will Balling.

Among projects planned in the Municipal Court next year is to ensure compliance with Supreme Court of Ohio guidelines for Marsy’s Law, which was approved by voters November 2017, and for State Issue 1, if approved by voters Tuesday. Gold said they are still working to implement electronic filing with the Civil Division and E-ticket with state and local law enforcement agencies.

She said the Justice Reinvestment Incentive Grant (JRIG) fund is new for the court this year, which works to reduce recidivism and change probationers’ cognizant behavior. The goals of the fund are:

• Commit 287 or fewer probation violators to jail;

• Refer at least 24 offenders to Thinking for a Change program;

• Refer at least 50 offenders to medically assisted treatment;

• Have 775 or fewer incarcerations on bond and pretrial status over the review period.

The probation grant fund’s goals were also discussed. Gold said it closely mirrors the goals of the JRIG. The probation grant fund assists probationers, their victims and their families as they proceed through the judicial system, she said.

Gold reminded council she is retiring next year and introduced her replacement, Tony Kremer, of Columbus, who is “learning the ropes and doing a fantastic job.”

Balling outlined the police department’s numerous goals and objectives for 2019, which include hiring and training a reinstated evidence/property clerk, continued long-term leadership training and development of supervisors, continued policy and procedure development for all staff, to maintain compliance standards, continued community relations programs and continued work to reduce opioid use in the community.

Next year the police department intends to continue training on the new CAD (computer aided dispatch) system, hire a part-time dispatcher, develop an effective and efficient monitoring system, continue with the currently successful community resources programs, provide ALICE (active shooter) training and expand the Sidney Addict Assistance Team (SAAT).

Balling said they intend to improve intelligence sharing with all law enforcement in Shelby County, from the Sheriff’s Office to police departments in area villages. The department also plans to conduct undercover operations using confidential informants and go after known drug houses, as well as provide drug education programs.

He said they are going to look at increasing the use of bike patrol and introduce an “E-bike” to address red light enforcement. They intend to work to the reduce OVI-related crashes and ramp up parking enforcement, among other goals.

This pie chart shows where general fund expenditures go in the Sidney city budget. pie chart shows where general fund expenditures go in the Sidney city budget.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.