Despite proposing to increase spending slightly from the previous year, a new administrative budget plan calls for the elimination of 10 city jobs.

Despite proposing to increase spending slightly from the previous year, a new administrative budget plan calls for the elimination of 10 city jobs.

Delaware city manager Tom Homan last Monday submitted his proposed 2009 municipal budget to city council, and the prospects aren't good for a number of current, full-time employees.

Although council will make the final decision, Homan proposed eliminating four positions now filled by full-time employees, as well as six full-time positions which now are vacant. He also suggested the city should cut two permanent part-time positions which currently are staffed, five interns and reduce seasonal hours in several departments.

"Our nation is moving toward a long and deep recession that will undoubtedly impact our state and local (economies)," Homan said in a budget message to council. "Given these dynamics, I felt it was imperative to propose a budget that was balanced, maintains mission-critical city services, and focuses on targeted reductions in certain departments.

"Doing so resulted in staffing level reductions, elimination of existing vacant positions, sharing of administrative functions, and reviewing and restructuring certain department operations."

Council is expected to initiate public budget hearings Nov. 24, and its passage could come on Dec. 29.

Homan's budget as proposed lists income of $22.56-million, while allowing for $22.53-million in expenditures.

In 2008, it's estimated the city will generate $21.82-million in revenues and spend $22.15-million.

As proposed, the city's planning department would see the elimination of an administrative assistant and zoning technician.

A wastewater manager would be removed from the public utilities department, and a mechanic would be cut from the city's public works garage.

Vacant full-time positions Homan proposed eliminating include a code enforcement inspector in the city's planning department, a project manager in the engineering department, a tech worker in the public works department, a grounds and facilities director in the parks and recreation department, and a deputy utilities director and tech employee in the public utilities department.

Proposed part-time cuts include a police parking control officer and information technology technician. Interns in the city manager's office and planning department also could go if approved by council, as well as seasonal interns in the finance, public utilities and engineering departments.

In calling for the cuts, Homan noted the city is on track to issue fewer than 100 single-family housing permits for 2008, a 15-year low. He also sought to maintain a $3.3-million general fund reserve, or 14.7-percent of projected total expenditures.

City policy calls for the reserve fund to be at least 10 percent of projected total expenditures for emergency purposes, and to help maintain the city's borrowing status.

"Tough choices had to be made," Homan wrote. "The end result, as proposed, forces our existing staff to do more with less, work smarter, more cooperatively and more creatively."

If approved, the budget would be the first to include cuts since at least 1998, city officials said.

First-ward councilman Jim Moore said the city's current economic outlook could be more challenging than any in recent memory.

Moore added that council could decide to cut different positions, but jobs likely would be lost.

"It's yet to be seen whether this is going to be worse," Moore said. "At first glance, I tend to agree with the city manager. These are necessary cuts to try to control the budget right now."

Despite the gloom, Moore said Delaware has "stable" employers, such as Ohio Wesleyan University, Grady Memorial Hospital and the Ohio Department of Transportation's District 6 office, which likely can be counted on for income tax revenues. He also feels the city's industrial park tenants continue to succeed in the face of a trying economy.

"My advice to the city and the council is don't panic," he said. "We're pretty stable and can plan our way through this one step at a time.

"We have a very good business community that supports the city with jobs and a fantastic industrial park that supports the city with jobs. We have some very stable employers supporting the city with their job forces."

nellis@thisweeknews.com