Grove City is projecting to spend less next year, but it still will be spending more than it takes in and dipping into reserves to get through 2014.
Grove City Council conducted a special meeting Dec. 3 to discuss the proposed 2014 budget submitted by the city administration. Council is scheduled to vote on the budget at its next meeting, Monday, Dec. 16.
"We have presented what we think is a fair, equitable operating budget," said Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage.
In the proposed budget, the city's general fund spending totals $26.2 million -- a decrease of more than $2.6 million from 2013.
However, the city's operating expenditures are projected to climb 7 percent to $21.5 million while revenue will fall 22 percent, to $24.7 million.
"The thing we really got hit on was the estate tax," Stage said. "Same with the Local Government Fund."
Estate tax revenue in 2013 was estimated to be $654,908, but next year, it will be eliminated. Local government funds from the state are projected to be $558,000, down from $579,500 in 2010 and $1.1 million in 2010 -- prior to major cuts in the first two-year budget from Ohio Gov, John Kasich.
The city's income tax, its primary source of revenue, grew from $17 million in 2010 to $21.8 million in 2013, but it also is projected to fall next year, with a 7-percent decrease to $20.2 million.
Most departments will see an increase. The largest increases will be in communications, $321,975; the Police Division, $290,032; Lands & Building, $233,072; the Building Department, $113,399; and Parks and Recreation, $87,067.
Departments that will see a decrease are City Council, finance, clerk of courts, garage, general government and information technology.
Overall, the city departments are requesting $2.6 million less than they did in 2013.
City Finance Director Mike Turner said Grove City typically budgets more for its operating budget than it spends.
"We will spend less than that," he said. "When that number comes in, it'll probably we closer to 5 percent" rather than the projected 7-percent increase.
Turner also said income tax revenue will probably be higher than estimated as projects such as Mount Carmel Health Systems' medical center come online in 2014.
The overall decline in the general fund is attributed to a reduction of nearly $3 million in funding for capital improvement projects, according to a letter from Stage to council included in the budget.
By the end of 2014, the projected general fund balance, the city's reserves, is $16.57 million, down 9 percent from 2013's $18.11 million. A little more than $1.5 million from the balance will go to cover 2014 spending.
"When you look at the picture and all that we've done," Stage said, "we still are sitting very handsomely as far as our balances go."
Capital improvements are expected to total $6.2 million, down from just over $10 million in 2013.
Among the projects for 2014 are $2.2 million for the sidewalk program, $900,000 for improvements at Windsor Park, $550,000 for work at the Broadway and Southwest Boulevard intersection, $475,000 for the 2014 street program and $350,000 for a bike path on Hoover Road.