Delaware had a good year for economic development in 2015, City Council members heard Monday in its first work session on the 2016 city budget.
“Economic development is a team sport, and we had some great results this year,” said director Sean Hughes, who started off the work session.
Hughes said 112 jobs were created this year with a payroll of $8.6 million; and the department’s new stand-alone website has drawn a lot more hits than the prior site, which was linked to the city’s site. In turn, the hits resulted in more visits by businesses looking into Delaware this year than the past.
In addition, “developers are paying attention to Sawmill Parkway,” Hughes said. The road extension is expected to lead to the addition of a number of industrial park businesses.
When asked about the economic outlook, Hughes said 2016 may be soft because it’s a presidential election year.
The 2016 proposed budget for the economic development department is $332,981, up from $311,709 in 2015.
Monday’s work session focused on administrative needs.
“This is an opportunity to hear brief remarks from the directors, and then to follow up with questions,” said City Manager Tom Homan.
Chief Bruce Pijanowski said the police department replaced the video system in cruisers this year; repaired locker room showers; filled four positions; and will replace a retiring police dog next week. For 2016, Pijanowski said he is requesting a new officer; wishing to remodel the evidence room; and join a council of governments in collaboration with other local jurisdictions.
He also said he would seek grants for obtaining body-worn cameras for officers.
The police department’s proposed 2016 budget is $7,720,293, up from $7,566,983 in 2015.
In answer to a question, Pijanowski said the department needed the impound lot it has on Curve Road, and it would be cost-prohibitive to rent at another location.
Fire Chief John Donahue said his department is on its way to achieving what it promised voters, who approved a levy in 2010. The budget for 2016 is $15,019,016, $5,606,971 more than 2015. Donahue said more than $1 million would go toward a new fire engine; the rest would be for the city’s fourth fire station, at Cheshire Road and Glenn Parkway.
“I can’t get it open soon enough, but I want to get it right by having the people in place,” Donahue said. He is seeking to add part-time firefighters to fill gaps in shifts.
Donahue said a nearby proposed site for the fourth station on U.S. 23 was rejected because of increased response times.
Chief information officer Scott Stowers said the information technologies department plans to add to the citywide video system in 2016. He noted that software is no longer bought, it is rented. The proposed 2016 budget for IT is $982,490, up from $925,353 in 2015.
The legal department’s 2016 proposed budget is $767,457, which is more than the $671,040 budgeted in 2015. City attorney Darren Shulman said the increase is due to the addition of an attorney who prosecutes municipal income tax cases. He said the position should pay for itself with the amount of delinquent taxes collected.
The city manager’s 2016 budget was proposed to be $707,860, compared to $742,374 in 2015. Among the initiatives proposed for 2016 is a quarterly newsletter placed in utility bills, said community affairs coordinator Lee Yoakum.
It was asked if health insurance might be made available for purchase to the city’s part-time employees, but it was determined not to be feasible.
Council has until the end of the year to pass the budget.
The final work session will be part of the regular council meeting on Dec. 14, with presentations on the municipal court with judges David Sunderman, Marianne Hemmeter and clerk Cindy Dinovo; and other funds by Homan and finance director Dean Stelzer.
If necessary, an additional work session may take place Dec. 17. Council is expected to adopt the budget as part of the year-end meeting on Dec. 21.
The budget estimates revenues of $19,478,000 for 2016; and the expenditures are estimated to be $19,456,219. The revenue is projected to be 5.9 percent over the 2015 budget; the expenditures expected to increase 5.8 percent from 2015. The fund balance, or rainy day fund, is estimated to be $3,319,254, which meets council’s target of 17 percent. The total appropriations of all funds is $107,906,783.
In a letter to council, Homan said the 2016 budget is balanced and seeks to address some of the public’s requests from a “Community Attitudes Survey.”
Council also held a budget work session on Tuesday, with an emphasis on operations. See Thursday’s Gazette for a recap of the session.