Upper Arlington News

Vote expected Dec. 10 for next year's city budget

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Upper Arlington City Council is expected to give final approval next week to an approximately $28.8-million operating budget for 2013.

City Manager Theodore Staton and the Upper Arlington Finance Department last month proposed a general operating budget for 2013 that is about $310,000 less than the approximately $29.1-million budget approved for 2012.

Based on discussions which have taken place over the past month, council is expected to pass the 2013 at its Dec. 10 meeting. The session will start at 7:30 p.m. at the Upper Arlington Municipal Services Center, 3600 Tremont Road.

A portion of the reductions in the proposed 2013 budget can be attributed to the elimination of 10 positions in various city departments.

According to an introduction about the budget Staton provided to council members, those positions have been left vacant after employees retired or moved on to other jobs. He indicated it's a business model he will continue to employ as he looks to cut municipal costs, "with the caveat that in some instances, it is vital that certain key positions be refilled in the interest of maintaining core organizational functions."

Across the board, he has proposed 2013 budget increases for seven city departments, while decreases have been proposed for 10 others.

In both cases, the adjustments are relatively small.

The biggest proposed increase would be in the Public Service Administration Department, which could see its budget rise from $993,627 in 2012 to approximately $1.04 million in 2013.

The largest proposed decrease is in the Community and Economic Development Department, which was appropriated approximately $1.14 million in 2012 and is expected to receive about $1.07 million in 2013.

According to Finance Director Cathe Armstrong, Upper Arlington will have lower economic development costs next year because of the success the department is having in attracting new businesses and expanding existing businesses.

Those strides have been most evident along West Lane Avenue, where a 26,000-square-foot space that formerly housed the Lane Avenue Baptist Church and several residential properties have been earmarked for redevelopment that includes restaurants with bars, as well as the proposed site of the J. Liu restaurant and bar.

"We've got more activity, more revenue," Armstrong said at a Nov. 19 council conference session. "We could come very close to breaking even with those (development) costs next year."

At that November meeting, Upper Arlington Community and Economic Development Department Director Dean Sivinski said approximately $72 million in development would occur this year, and he's expecting another strong year next year.

"If I had to give a range, I'd guess $60 (million) to $70 (million) would be it," he said.

Related to emergency services, Staton proposed cutting the city's police budget from approximately $7.45 million in 2012 to about $7.39 million in 2013. He has also proposed slightly increasing the Upper Arlington Fire Division's share of general fund dollars from about $8.27 million this year to approximately $8.29 million next year.

Additionally, Staton has proposed reducing funding to the Upper Arlington Street Division from $490,008 in 2012 to $454,948 in 2013, and has suggested more funding for vehicle and equipment maintenance from $696,959 this year to $710,619 next year.

He has also proposed reducing funding for facilities maintenance from $977,583 in 2012 to $875,750 in 2013.

After paying United Health Care approximately $3.94 million in 2012 for total employee health and stop-loss insurance, the city is changing providers to Medical Mutual of Ohio in 2013. That move is expected to save the city $100,000 in 2013, and those costs won't increase in 2014 due to the new contract.

The city's capital improvement fund -- which finances road and sewer work, as well as other infrastructure projects -- calls for annual funding of $6 million.

In 2013, Staton has proposed an approximately $10.45 million CIP budget.

Although the city's reserve or "rainy day" fund will decrease from approximately $14.3 million in 2012 to about $13.2 million in 2013, it still will be at least 30 percent of the city's total operating budget, which has been identified by city officials as a target.

 

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