Hilliard's general-fund operating budget for 2018 is balanced, though by the smallest of margins.

A $367 surplus – the difference between revenue and expenses – is estimated in a budget of almost $26 million.

"The city has submitted a 2018 balanced budget and anticipates the continued strength and stability of our income-tax revenue, which represents approximately 70 percent of the city's revenue," said David Delande, Hilliard's finance director.

The city will have an estimated carryover of $7 million at the end of 2018, but $5 million is expected to be allocated for capital improvements, Delande said. The city also has $6.4 million in a contingency fund designed to equal 25 percent of the year-to-year general-fund budget, he said.

Hilliard City Council on Dec. 11 approved the budget by a 5-2 vote.

Les Carrier and Nathan Painter voted against the ordinance that appropriated funds for the operating budget.

Painter, who serves as council president, said he opposed the proposed budget in part because it was not approved in conjunction with the city's capital-improvements budget, which remains in committee, but also because it does not account well enough for the city's growing infrastructure-improvement demands.

"If we keep kicking the can down the road, it will cost us more in the long run," he said.

Carrier said he voted against the budget because of "a lack of a coherent plan for our city budgeting."

"We have no long or short term debt policy," he said.

Carrier said he recently learned city leaders intend to use its cash reserve to pay for capital improvements rather than risk a rating downgrade by issuing additional debt.

Mayor Don Schonhardt said during a planning retreat in October he was concerned the city's bond rating could be lowered if any debt were issued.

"There is no comprehensive allocation or strategy in the use of resources to address ongoing operational or capital needs of our growing community," Carrier said.

The city's estimated $25.7 million in expenses represents a 4.6 percent increase compared to the $24.6 million budget for 2017.

At the department level, the largest increases for 2018, compared to 2017, are within communication and information technology (15.74 percent), health services (10.81 percent), safety (6.9 percent), city council (5.37 percent) and parks and recreation (4.95 percent).

Departments with reduced budgets in 2018, compared to 2017, are boards and commissions (25.8 percent), economic development (15.5 percent) and engineering (9.5 percent).