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 2018 budget, Monday night, which proposes total expenditures of $54.1 million, including capital outlay and debt service. Next year’s operating budget (minus capital spending) is about $28.77 million.

Total expenditures are 1.2 percent greater than this year’s total of $53.5 million. Next year’s operating budget is 1.8 percent greater than the 2017 total of $16.13 million. Fee increases next year are in the range of 1 to 3 percent, Finance Officer Ginger Adams explained in her budget report to council.

The average family of four can anticipate roughly a 4 percent increase in its monthly utility bill, from $107 in 2017 to $111 in 2018. Low-volume users may see their bills increase by 4.6 percent, from about $53 to $55.

Adams said key budget assumptions include:

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

• Modest inflation rates;

• Capital and staffing per the city’s five-year plan (with minor capital project and adjustments and the staffing exception of the addition of a vacant property inspector);

• Minimum cash reserves achieved in all funds.

A notable exception, Adams said, is the addition of the vacant property inspector position. The position will be funded by a portion of lodging taxes that is accounted for in the community service program fund.

Next year, the city plans to add 3.45 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff, including an assistant court administrator, seasonal help for utility plants and biennial curb painting and the vacant property inspector. This would bring the total city staff to 223 FTE, which is 8 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, or unexpected expenses.

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

– About $3 million of roadway repairs/reconstructions.

– Phase II of sewer plant and sewer distribution system improvements.

– Complete last well at water source and numerous line replacements.

– Plan and design the north-end fire station 3.

Council also heard budget review presentations on the Sidney Municipal Court from Clerk Bonnie Gold, the police department from Chief Will Balling, and public works department from Assistant City Manager/Public Works Director Gary Clough.

Among projects planned in the Municipal Court next year is the implementation of electronic filing with the Civil Division and E-ticket with state and local law enforcement agencies, Gold said. Also next year, the court lobby will be restructured to provide a more secure environment for the public and those working at the courthouse. Gold said the new assistant court administrator position will be paid from the Municipal Court Special Projects Fund.

Balling outlined the Police Department’s numerous goals and objectives for 2018, which include 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 implement the CAD (computer aided dispatch) system, hire a new part-time dispatcher, expand the SAAT (Sidney Addict Assistance Team), work to reduce OVI-related crashes and ramp up parking enforcement, among other goals.

Clough reviewed goals and objectives for the many divisions that fall under public works; street lighting, engineering, urban forestry, streets, winter maintenance, water, underground utilities, sewer, stormwater, public transit, airport, service center, garage/fleet, and solid waste.

Council will complete the budget review at its Nov. 13 meeting. The appropriations ordinance will have its first reading at the Nov. 27 meeting and will be up for adoption Dec. 11.

Monday’s fatal crash on state Route 47 at Wilkinson Avenue was brought up, and the danger of that intersection was reiterated by council.

Council member Steve Wagner reminded of SCARF’s Lip Sync Battle fundraiser on Saturday at the American Legion on Fourth Street. He is one of seven contestants participating to raise money for the new Shelby County Animal Shelter and Adoption Center. Wagner urged everyone to go on to SCARF’s fundraiser’s webpage to vote and donate.

City Manager Mark Cundiff reviewed the upcoming Zoning Board/Planning Commission Agenda for Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, and reviewed the prospective City Council Agenda items for the next 30 days.

Council member Janet Born and Vice Mayor Mardie Milligan were absent and excused by council.

In final business, council went into an executive session to consider the employment of a public employee and the purchase of property for public purposes. No action was taken when they emerged.

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.