Council begins five-year financial planning process

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — Sidney City Council began the first steps in city’s annual five-year financial planning review process at Tuesday evening’s workshop session.

Financial Officer Ginger Adams and City Manager Mark Cundiff introduced the five-year plan, including proposed capital and operational expenditures.

The plan encompasses Sidney’s Comprehensive Plan, council’s priorities that were set during the 2016 retreat on Feb. 29, the long-term financial plan, and capital planning to determine the annual budget. Council members received copies of the policy document for review at the Aug. 22 meeting.

The financial plan indicates moderate economic growth for income tax with a projected 2.5 percent annual growth increase over the planning period, which supports the general fund. This will allow the addition of some staff, primarily full-time positions throughout the later years of the plan.

Among proposed staffing changes, the plan shows the city is able to fund 10.82 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs — seven full-time positions, not including the potential seven for the new north-end fire department.

Staff changes include the reinstatement of two police officer positions and a cemetery equipment operator I in 2017. In 2018, it includes the addition of a planner to review plans/permits and to investigate complaints/violations, and the potential addition of an IT analyst (contingent upon cost sharing with the county). In 2019, it includes the reinstatement of an engineer technician II position. In 2020, the reinstatement of a municipal court deputy clerk position, and the addition of three lieutenants firefighters for north-end fire station. In 2021, the addition of four firefighters for the north-end fire station.

Proposed part-time staffing changes would include adding a water plant operator-in-training in 2018 (0.75 FTE). Also, to increase part-time Shelby Public Transit drivers hours for increased ridership and add part-time maintenance worker to comply with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) grant requirements to be added in 2017 (0.87 FTE).

With all these staffing changes, the city’s staffing level still would be 6 percent lower in 2021 (229 FTE) than it was in 2008 (243 FTE).

Wage increases are minimal in the five-year plan, Adams said. Currently, they range from 1 to 2 percent.

As the state has continued to cut revenues it used to share with local governments, the city has increased its dependence on the income tax. In 2007, the income tax made up 61 percent of general fund revenues; in 2015 it was 70 percent; 71 percent is projected for 2017-2021 planning period.

The city could face even more funding cuts if the state Legislature passes a proposed “pay where you live” law for income taxes. If that happens, the city would lose $6 million to $7 million annually, plus $1.25 million that has been earmarked for street improvements, Adams said.

Adams also reviewed street, stormwater, water, solid waste and several other funds.

In stormwater, council next year may consider increasing the current stormwater fee that covers operating costs of the program. It’s the lowest rate in the state now, and even if raised, still would be relatively low, Cundiff said. The increased revenue could be used for stormwater capital spending; that currently is funded by income tax dollars.

Cundiff reviewed the list of capital improvement projects planned over the next five years.

Within the capital improvement fund budget street resurfacing, curb and gutter repair totals approximately $3.1 5 million each year. In 2017, Phase III of the traffic safety improvements along state Route 47 should be complete which includes a new traffic signal at Fourth Avenue and Michigan Street. ODOT will pay much of the cost.

The existing 1.5 percent tax levy will pay for the initial land purchase of $710,000 and the conceptual design study of $250,000 for the new north-end fire station. The plan proposes adding two new operation and capital funds for the north-end fire station.

Council will review the plan at the Sept. 12 meeting and consider adopting it Sept. 26. The plan will be reflected in the 2017 budget ordinance that council will consider at the Nov. 28 meeting.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.