With the new year just over a month away, the City of Delaware has put the finishing touches on its 2019 budget. At Monday’s Delaware City Council meeting, members discussed that budget during a first reading.
Appropriations for the 2019 budget total over $119.1 million, with $23,971,947 of that included in the city’s general fund. The largest appropriations in the general fund are for general administration ($6,090,255) and the police department ($9,105,357).
The total appropriations for the 2019 year are up over $4 million from last year’s number, which was just shy of $115 million.
In addition to the general fund, funds with appropriations totaling $5 million or more include the Fire and EMS Operations Fund ($11,182,079), Capital Improvements Fund ($7,131,331), Glenn Road South Construction Fund ($10,138,632), Water Fund ($6,336,213), Sewer Fund ($7,075,047) and Self Insurance Fund ($6,472,000).
The policing budget is up slightly from last year’s budget, which appropriated $8.7 million in funding. Police Chief Bruce Pijanowski said their budget reflects “modest increases in areas where directors had made requests,” although they were not able to accommodate every request.
Mainly, the two increases to the police department’s budget will be the addition of two new officers. Pijanowski said those officers would be put into patrol, and he called patrol and having officers in cars the department’s foundation and mission.
Pijanowski cited many factors that necessitate the need for additional patrol officers, including an always-growing number of calls for service and the increasing response times for a city that continues to expand. He also told council the department suffers from attrition every year, saying the department is always near full staff every year but not quite at the mark, whether it’s because of officers retiring, being on leave or injured.
The “expanding realm that we have to provide this service in,” Pijanowski stated, also presents issues for a staff short on officers. He referred to events such as the Iron Man competition, races throughout Delaware, and the various downtown events that create added security risks.
“We’re a destination for special events and that’s great,” he said. “But along with that, for me, comes very significant responsibilities in terms of public safety.”
Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle said it was “unfair” for the necessary resources associated with policing special events to come at the police department’s expense, and she asked what remedies there may be to allow for the events to continue to be well secured, while also not presenting an unfair burden to the police department.
Pijanowski suggested one possible solution would be for the event organizers to share in some of those costs.
Assistant City Manager Jackie Walker said that issue is something the Special Events Committee “has struggled with for several years” and recommended it was time to either make a policy decision that everyone involved shares the cost or to have the city fund each department associated with handling and overseeing the special events.
A second reading of the budget will be held at the next council meeting, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 10, at Delaware City Hall.