Delaware News

2013 city budget

New builds, income tax revenue trump state cuts

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New construction and an uptick in income tax revenue helped Delaware city officials balance the budget for 2013, even as state funding dwindles.

A draft of the 2013 budget released last week will see a first reading by City Council at its meeting Monday, Nov. 26, and a second reading and public hearing Dec. 10. Adoption is scheduled for Dec. 27.

The city projects revenues of $16.64 million, topping proposed expenditures by just about $1,000. The city's reserve fund will stand at roughly $4.55 million.

"A balanced budget and a healthy reserve fund balance are significant accomplishments as local governments struggle to gauge an uneven economic recovery," City Manager Tom Homan said in a written report.

Overall, projected expenditures are up by about $522,000 from 2012, an increase of 3.2 percent.

Homan said the budget reflects a hopeful outlook on the regional and national economy moving forward, including a projected 4.3 percent uptick in income tax revenue in 2013 -- an increase of about $477,000 from 2012. Income tax is the city's primary revenue source.

Additionally, building permit data continue to trend upward. New residential construction permits stood at 157 at the time of Homan's report and looked set to finish with the strongest showing since 2007.

Business and multifamily developments are on pace to set a record in 2013, with about 230 permits granted. A number of new businesses and restaurants plan to open in downtown Delaware in the coming months.

"This is a very positive sign, reflecting the city's desirability for existing businesses wanting to expand and new businesses wanting to locate here," Homan said.

But cuts to state funding dollars and the elimination of Ohio's inheritance tax will offset much of the city's gains next year.

The budget reflects cuts to the state's Local Government Fund totaling about $186,000 for Delaware in 2013.

The ongoing phase-out of the inheritance tax will result in additional losses for the city of about $193,000 during 2013, slashing collections by half. The tax will be eliminated completely in 2014.

"Fortunately, a positive revenue base allows us to mitigate some of the impact of state reductions and Delaware continues to move forward," Homan said.

The budget does little to address the city's chronic road maintenance funding shortfalls. Homan said the city will work to prioritize street rehabilitation projects next year for the long term.

Short-term steps are being taken in 2013. With the help of a new, more-efficient milling machine purchased this year, the city has scheduled twice the amount of crack-sealing, 50 percent more asphalt work and 15 times more berm repairs than in 2012.

About $20,000 also was appropriated from the general fund to continue operations of Oak Grove Cemetery in 2013. The cemetery is otherwise primarily supported by its own revenue.

The city took control of the cemetery this fall after the cemetery board dissolved in October due to financial difficulties.

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