Delaware Council takes first look at 2018 budget


By Joshua Keeran - jkeeran@aimmediamidwest.com



The City of Delaware’s proposed 2018 budget, which City Manager R. Thomas Homan calls “fiscally sound,” underwent a first reading and initial public hearing during Monday’s City Council meeting.

“The annual budget is the single most important policy statement made by the city,” Homan stated in his budget summary to council. “The budget’s focus is on maintaining services while prudently adding resources for services in limited and strategic areas that are sustainable, all guided by the city’s four strategic plan ‘themes’ (great community, safe city, healthy economy, and effective government).”

The proposed budget for 2018 shows general fund revenues projected at $22,127,387 (3.8 percent increase over the 2017 budget) and general fund expenditures expected to total $22,093,723 (2.4 percent increase over last year’s budget).

On the revenue side, the city’s general fund is relying heavily on Delaware’s 1 percent income tax, which is expected to generate nearly $15 million in 2018, while property taxes are projected to bring in $1.5 million.

As for general fund expenditures, the two largest costs to the city in 2018 are projected to be police protection ($8.7 million) and general administration ($3.4 million).

If all goes according to plan, the projected 2018 budget would leave the city’s general fund balance heading into 2019 with a positive balance of just over $4 million.

While Homan notes in his budget summary that the city’s “financial condition remains strong,” there is concern among city staff over the growth rate of the city’s primary source of revenue — income tax.

Homan states the growth rate in income tax revenue is starting to slow from an average increase of 6.72 percent between 2013 and 2016 to a projected growth of 2.8 percent in 2018.

“This slowing will continue to challenge the city’s ability to address its core services, especially the growing need to provide more funding for road maintenance and repair,” he stated.

Homan said he looks forward to discussing the budget at length with council over the coming weeks.

The proposed 2018 budget will undergo a second reading and second public hearing during council’s Dec. 11 meeting in council chambers at City Hall. Adoption of the budget is expected to take place on Dec. 21, council’s last meeting of 2017.

The proposed budget is viewable online at www.delawareohio.net/city-budget/.

Other business

Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle presented Ohio Wesleyan University President Rock Jones with a proclamation congratulating the university on its 175th anniversary.

“I know when I came to Delaware there wasn’t that bond between Wesleyan and the city, and I’m so thankful that it has changed and they are truly welcome by all,” Riggle said.

Likewise, Jones said, the university is thankful for its relationship with the city.

“Never has the partnership with the town of Delaware been more important or more meaningful to Ohio Wesleyan than today,” he said. “We are a product of the town of Delaware.”

Council waived the three-readings rule and passed on its second reading an ordinance creating a parcel Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agreement involving four parcels on West Central Avenue between Crestview and Buehler drives.

Under the agreement, the owners of the four parcels (former Buehler’s Fresh Foods site and the three outlots in front of the building) will make service payments in lieu of paying property taxes.

“This parcel TIF would assist in the payment of turn lane improvements on Central Avenue when those turn lane improvements are needed,” said Economic Development Director Sean Hughes.

He said the infrastructure improvements would be triggered by either the development of the westernmost outlot (contains what the city believes is a vacant home) or a tenant moving into the middle outlot currently being developed to the west of Panera Bread that would generate high traffic volume.

The TIF fund is expected to generate approximately $140,000 off of the four parcels over a 30-year period, and Delaware City Schools and the Delaware Area Career Center will each continue to receive its share of taxes on the four parcels, Hughes added.

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By Joshua Keeran

jkeeran@aimmediamidwest.com

Contact Joshua Keeran at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @KeeranGazette.

Contact Joshua Keeran at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @KeeranGazette.