Council continues review of 5-year financial plan

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — Sidney City Council continued discussing the city’s 2021-2025 financial plan during Tuesday’s hybrid teleconference meeting. The plan shows a moderate increase in existing fees, as well as information on the street and capital improvement projects.

Finance Officer Ginger Adams, with City Manager Mark Cundiff, introduced the financial plan which encompasses Sidney’s Comprehensive Plan, council’s goals, the long-term financial plan and capital planning to determine the annual budget at the workshop session.

The presentation of the financial plan indicated residents will see an increase in their city utility bills (water, sewer, stormwater and refuse). A low-volume user is anticipated to pay $59.87 per month next year, an increase of $1.72 per month in 2021. The figure for the average family of four will be $121.10, an increase of $3.72 per month in 2021. The total stormwater rate will also increase to $3.22 over the five-year planning period from the current rate of $2.10.

An overview was given to remind council members the general fund’s cash reserve must be at or above 20 percent of expenditures for each year. It provides 73 days of cash. Seventy-three percent of the employees’ salaries/wages, benefits and taxes also makes up the general fund. City staff closely monitors collections monthly. Staff makes adjustments mid-year to the fire-year budget as needed to make sure the general fund stays above the minimum reserve amount. This is another reason the five-year plan is revised annually, Adams said.

She then shared graphs and charts to help depict various financial planning scenarios for the five-year period. The scenarios showed a quick financial recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by a period of moderate growth, as well as an optimistic and pessimistic view of the impact each would have on the general fund balance and its ability to stay within the established case reserve guidelines.

She and Cundiff then reviewed street, cemetery, stormwater, water and several other funds. Adams said lodging tax dollars suffered this year because of COVID-19 and travel restrictions, so no transfer from the general fund to the community service fund is projected for 2021. Adams noted the stormwater fund would see a 1% increase in operating fees, while capital fees would increase by 15% to replace aging infrastructure. The plan includes a stormwater special assessment district to pay 90% of an $11.3 million estimated cost of a significant stormwater infrastructure project over 20 years. She also presented operating and capital cost information about the proposed fire station No 3.

Cundiff reviewed the list of capital improvement projects planned for the next five years. Total spending in the capital improvement fund is budgeted to be $28.7 million.

Within the capital improvement fund budget, streets, traffic and bridge projects total about $15.2 million; 28% is primarily funded through grants.

Other than streets, the largest capital improvements are $2.5 million in parks and cemetery improvement projects.

Council will further deliberate questions during the plan’s review at the Sept. 17 regular council meeting. It will be considered for adoption on Sept. 28.

In other business, Community Development Director Barbara Dulworth reviewed the upcoming Zoning Board/Planning Commission Agenda for Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. Cundiff also gave a review of the prospective City Council Agenda items for the next 30 days.

During council comments, Steve Wagner asked for an update on the status of the dumpster at Papa John’s pizza on Wapakoneta Avenue, which was reported to be in the road and a potential traffic hazard. Cundiff said city staff visited the business and spoke to the manager to ensure the proper placement of the dumpster.

Mayor Mike Barhorst also invited all present to the 100th anniversary celebration at Ferguson Construction Company on Thursday, Sept. 10, and to the rededication of the Sgt. Baker statue on top of the Monumental Building on Saturday, Sept. 19.

Cundiff reminded the public trash collection will continue to be delayed by one day all week due the Labor Day holiday. He also said the Ohio Building’s marketing brochure was sent to the printers on Tuesday.

In final business, City Council went into an executive session to consider the employment of a public employee. No action was taken after members emerged from the session.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.