Delaware City Council unanimously approved the 2016 budget Monday night.
The 2016 budget proposes to add one full time police officer, increase funding to demolish blighted properties, hire a Parks and Natural Resources director, target marketing dollars for economic development to promote the city and the addition of a part time human resource coordinator.
“Revenue growth in 2016 is projected to be enough to support modest increases in certain areas,” said City Manager R. Thomas Homan said in a letter that accompanied the budget to city council.
The budget projects a 5.9 percent increase to the general fund. The city’s income tax is projected to increase 5.6 percent more than the 2015 estimate. Property taxes are also projected to increase 5.3 percent more than the 2015 estimate.
A new Parks and Natural Resources director is budgeted for 2016. Homan cited the 2012 Novak Report, which identified the position as a priority.
The director would “focus on Delaware’s growing public resources, including 370 acres of parkland, 24 parks and playground facilities, 20 miles of bike trails, an urban forest of more than 17,000 trees and a 50-acre, nine-hole golf course,” Homan said.
Citing a 2015 community attitudes survey, Homan said that the Economic Development Department will focus on marketing, site and building preparedness, entrepreneurship and business retention and expansion. He said the new stand-alone website, www.delawaremeansbusiness.com is live and, “is generating twice the traffic in one month than we saw for the entire year.”
A Google Adwords campaign that began in October has 370,946 impressions in the U.S. and Canada and 1,520 clicks to the department website.
“The budget will allow the department to continue to adjust and explore web marketing campaigns utilizing a small marketing budget in 2016,” Homan said.
He highlighted economic development projects such as Sawmill Parkway, the Economic Development and Entrepreneur Center, which will wrap up in 2016, and said progress on Innovation Park will continue.
“The city added more than 112 new jobs and retained nearly 70, with a combined payroll of $8,680,000 payroll,” Homan said. “New jobs continue to slant toward high paying ($77,500 per year average) management, engineering, business services and more technical production jobs.”
Homan said that 2015 was a “robust year of residential permitting,” citing specifically single-family units.
He outlined specifically Glenross North – a 100-acre lot for about 200 single-family homes. He said that the city had annexed ground for the project for the first time since 2008.
Homan asked city council for a rate increase on water, saying that the new water plant is costing the city.
“Increasing water rates will be necessary to offset the additional cost of operating the new water plant,” Homan said. “Producing higher-quality water, per Ohio EPA standards, has increased treatment cost, mainly electrical.
Prior to the plant, the monthly cost was $14,565 and now that cost is $36,515 per month, which would create a $659,000 budget gap in 2016.
“The water fund’s healthy reserve will allow us to mitigate the effect of this imbalance, but not for long.”
Homan called for 0.15 percent income tax increase for street and road improvements in the city.
The budget also calls for a parking assessment study for downtown.
“It will be vital to the success of the assessment that we include the stakeholders, specifically the downtown merchants and owners,” Homan said.
The City Council’s next session is scheduled for Jan. 11 at 7 p.m.