Delaware City Manager Tom Homan rolled out the city’s 2022 operating budget during Monday’s meeting of Delaware City Council. The budget received its first reading at the meeting, and a public hearing is scheduled for the second reading at the next council meeting on Nov. 8.
In the documents submitted to council, Homan called the budget “balanced and fiscally responsible” and said it is “based on the City Council priorities and our vision to deliver essential services and provide a high quality of life for all residents, visitors, and businesses.”
However, as was indicated previously in with the city’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) that was approved earlier this month, Homan noted that a “structural imbalance” is growing in the city’s five-year forecast. Nearly $1.9 million was reduced in the CIP, but the 2026 projected budget remains out of balance by more than $9 million.
“The budget promotes public safety, invests in infrastructure improvement, and advances economic development as we continue to journey through this period of uncertainty caused by the global pandemic,” Homan said in the budget. “We continue to fund and invest in our community, but we must also recognize the cost of operating basic public services that are locally funded continues to increase. Delaware, while successful in so many ways as an award-winning city, continues to have more needs than it has resources available.”
To highlight the increased strain on the city’s general fund, the proposed 2022 budget shows an 11.3% increase in general fund revenues from the 2021 budget to the 2022 budget but a 17.6% increase in expenditures over the same period.
The proposed 2022 budget shows an unencumbered balance of $10,450,335 in the city’s general fund to begin the year. Budgeted general fund revenues for the year are projected to be $29,383,920, with expenditures shown at a total of $30,441,868 for an ending general fund balance of$9,392,386.
A balance of $29,258,832 is shown in the special revenues fund to begin the year, with a total of $34,763,194 in revenue coming in. After $43,246,530 in expenditures, the fund shows an ending balance of $20,775,497.
Capital improvement funds show an unencumbered balance $8,375,992 to begin 2022. Fund revenues are shown to be $15,812,011, with expenditures totaling $17,416,793 for an ending balance of $6,771,211.
Homan said in the budget that he will be proposing that council authorize a Financial Review Task Force before the end of the year “to review and analyze the current financial condition of the city of Delaware for the purpose of promoting efficient and effective operations that ensure a financially strong government.”
Among the goals of the task force would be to undertake a high-level review of the city’s current financial status, explore further privatization and collaboration efforts, undertake a high-level assessment of the city’s current levels of services, assess the status of capital investments made and the plans for the next capital improvement plan, and to report their findings and recommendations to council.
Homan went on to say the task force is a change from his proposal previously this year, which recommended bringing a five-year property tax levy to the spring ballot in order to support street maintenance. Homan said it has since become evident that “a more comprehensive examination and solution is needed.”
The city’s 2022 operating budget can be viewed in its entirety by visiting www.delawareohio.net. It is anticipated the budget will be approved by council during a special meeting on Monday, Nov. 29.