Despite a 33-percent hike in health care costs and the loss of approximately $287,000 in state funding, the Worthington city budget looks stable, at least for 2012.

Despite a 33-percent hike in health care costs and the loss of approximately $287,000 in state funding, the Worthington city budget looks stable, at least for 2012.

Beginning in 2013, the city will start looking at ways to eliminate positions through attrition, and at possible other changes as communities look for ways to collaborate on services.

But for the coming year, the numbers and percentages of increases seem unremarkable.

Revenues will increase by 3.34 percent, with $25,225,307 expected to be collected in 2012.

Spending will be $24,312,372. The estimated expenses for 2011 were $23,709,743.

Worthington City Council is scheduled to vote on the 2012 budget at its Dec. 5 meeting. It has been poring over city manager Matt Greeson’s proposed budget at each meeting since early November, and has made few changes to the document.

Existing services will be maintained in 2012, with no increase in full-time staff. Three full-time positions will be reduced, with part-time and overtime expenses partially offsetting the savings.

Two staff reductions at the police department will result in a net savings of $137,822.

An officer previously assigned to a regional domestic security (terrorism) task force has been reassigned to local police duty. That allowed the department not to fill a position left vacant through promotions after the retirement of the chief last year, and allowed “on the street” coverage to remain the same.

The other position not to be filled is in the dispatching department.

The Parks and Recreation Department will also not fill an aquatics assistant position. Part-time hours and workloads will increase, with a net savings of $23,843.

Health insurance premiums will increase by an unprecedented $658,000, according to Greeson’s budget memo.

The city has been a long-time member of the Central Ohio Healthcare Consortium, a self-insured consortium of cities, townships, and villages.

Past increases have been moderate, at or lower than national trends, Greeson said.

An increase in recent claims by city employees caused the cost increase.

The city is contractually obligated to the consortium for another year, and will contract with a third-party consultant to help evaluate healthcare options for the future.

Funding for the McConnell Arts Center in 2012 will be $244,550, approximately $1,000 more than in 2011. The Convention and Visitors Bureau of Worthington will receive $100,000, the same as last year.

Nine other community-based organizations will share $55,523, the same total as in 2011.

Revenues are expected to increase to $25.2 million in 2012, despite the loss of state funding.

The city is set to lose $262,435 from the Local Government Fund and $150,000 in estate tax, which will decrease in 2012 and be eliminated the following year.

Interest earned is also expected to decrease by $200,000.

On the plus side, income tax collections are expected to increase by 2.5 percent, or $436,890; property tax is estimated to increase 9.4 percent, or $239,845; emergency medical transport reimbursements are set to increase 22 percent, or $108,164; and community center memberships are expect to increase 12.7 percent, or $90,000.

With state funding projected to continue to decrease in 2013 and the estate tax to be discontinued at the same time, Greeson expects some changes in the coming years.

He said he expects to continue to reduce positions, increase reliance on part-time help, and make some changes in delivery of services to residents.

Also, he expects to continue to work with nearby communities to provide more cost-effective services to all. This can take the form of service contracts, merging of functions, sharing equipment or personnel, and taking advantage of another government’s pricing.

“I am reasonably optimistic that the fiscal challenges that we all face will not only create, but necessitate, new and unprecedented opportunities for collaboration,” Greeson wrote in his budget memo.