Westerville News & Public Opinion

General fund spending to hit $39.6 million in 2014

City utilities will increase by an average of $8.04 a month

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Westerville City Council on Dec. 3 unanimously approved a 2014 operating budget of $198.8 million.

The overall budget includes the city's four utility funds, as well as its capital projects and regular daily expenditures.

The general fund, which includes personnel and regular operations, totaled $39.6 million for 2014, a 0.9-percent increase over the general fund budget for the current year.

While the budget is passed annually, the city's five-year financial plan shows expenditure growth of about 3.4 percent, City Manager Dave Collinsworth told council.

Meanwhile, the city's largest revenue source, its income tax, is projected to grow 3 percent annually over the five-year plan, Collinsworth said. The income tax accounts for about 70 percent of the city's revenue.

The largest component of the budget, Collinsworth said, was personnel costs.

Though the costs increase, the city plans no additional staffing within the next five years, he said. Two positions are being introduced in the 2014 budget, but they will be offset by the loss of other positions.

The city also will begin self-insuring for medical care, which keeps insurance costs flat for the next year, Collinsworth said.

The approval of the budget came with approved rate increases for water, sewer, electric and refuse customers.

The rate increases will cost the average user of all of the utilities a total of an additional $8.04 per month, said City Finance Director Lee Ann Shortland.

The increases will be effective on bills due after Jan. 31.

In passing the budget, city council Chairman Craig Treneff praised the work of city staff, saying it's a year-round process to create a balanced budget and balanced five-year plan as required by the city's charter.

"This annual budget is part of a long process," Treneff said. "It takes a great deal of work by staff over the course of the year and examination by council to get to this point."