The city of Powell is set to approve a budget aimed at maintaining the "status quo" in 2019.

At its Nov. 20 meeting, Powell City Council held a second reading of an ordinance that would approve a budget of $9,192,697, funded by an estimated $8,351,230 in revenue.

"For the most part, the budget for 2019 is very status quo," city spokeswoman Megan Canavan said.

"The city always operates that way. We tend to be very fiscally conservative and we operate very lean," she said. "We work from year to year, and as departments are putting together budgets, they always have that in mind – that they need to be operating that way and proposing things that way as well."

City Councilman Tom Counts also serves as Powell's finance committee chairman. He said there's very little to talk about in the budget because there's very little wiggle room for the city.

"That's been consistent with the budgets over the last several years," he said. "We approach it very conservatively, and we don't see any increase in revenues for operating expenses. It's sort of a bare-bones budget."

That bare-bones budget doesn't just come from fiscally conservative policies, however.

The city estimates it's losing more than $500,000 per year in funds that would have come from Ohio's now-eliminated estate tax or decreasing local government funds from the state.

Counts said the budget strategy comes from necessity.

"There's not a whole lot to work with, so there isn't a whole lot of decision-making in terms of what extra to add or what to cut when it's bare-bones," he said. "If you were to cut any more, you'd be cutting into services, which is a whole other level of discussion."

Despite planning to spend about $800,000 more than its revenue, the city still expects to have a solid balance remaining in its reserve fund, which is used for "unforeseen emergencies."

Canavan said city officials aim to keep that fund between 15 and 20 percent of the total operating budget, and Powell expects to have about $1.2 million available, which would represent just over 15 percent.

Counts said that's a figure the city is happy with, especially given declining funds from the state.

Contributing to the difference in spending – an increase of about $350,000 from 2018 – are relatively small expenditures such as a new snow plow ($125,000) or funds to operate new parks ($47,134).

The city's recent failed bid at increasing the city's income tax won't have an effect on the budget, Canavan said, because the budget wasn't prepared with that increase in mind.

"Departments planned that it would be status quo, that there would be no change," she said. "And then if it did happen, the plan was to determine a long-term capital-maintenance plan."

Canavan also said the income-tax increase likely only would have affected a couple of departments, including services and engineering.

"So a lot of our departments would not have seen any difference," she said.

Read the city's full budget at tinyurl.com/powellbudget2019.

aking@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekAndrew