Council continues review of 5-year financial plan

By Sheryl Roadcap - [email protected]

SIDNEY — Sidney City Council continued discussing the city’s 2022-2026 financial plan during Tuesday’s workshop meeting.

The plan shows a moderate increase in existing fees, as well as information on the street and capital improvement projects.

Assistant Finance Officer Renee DuLaney, 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 $61.53 per month next year, an increase of $1.66 per month in 2022. The figure for the average family of four will be $124.53, an increase of $3.43 per month in 2022. The total stormwater rate will also increase to $3.55 over the five-year planning period from the current rate of $2.27.

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-six 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, it was noted.

DuLaney 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.

DuLaney and Cundiff then reviewed street, cemetery, stormwater, water and several other funds. Lodging tax dollars suffered in 2020 year because of COVID-19 and travel restrictions, a transfer back to the general fund in the amount of $72,795 occurred in 2021. During plan years 2022-2026 projected transfer in of $5,000 per year.

DuLaney 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.

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 $42.4 million. He also briefly highlighted projects requested with ARPA funds, but were unable to be funded in the proposed plan. Cundiff said these projects were worthwhile and would stay “on the radar” until funding was available

Within the capital improvement fund budget, streets, traffic and bridge projects total about $14.7 million; 18% is primarily funded through grants.

Other than streets, the largest capital improvements are $9.2 million in police and fire fleet and facility improvement projects.

Council will further deliberate questions during the plan’s review at the Sept. 13 regular council meeting. It will be considered for adoption on Sept. 27.

In other business, Cundiff said there will be no Zoning Board of Appeals meeting in September, and although no cases are on the agenda for Planning Commission on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, the commission will meet to review the final part of the zoning code update. Cundiff also gave a review of the prospective City Council Agenda items for the next 30 days.

Mayor Mike Barhorst reminded all of the concert and memorial service planned on Courthouse Square on Saturday, Sept. 11 in recognition of the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

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

[email protected]

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.