The city of Upper Arlington will maintain roughly the same level of expenditures and employees the next two years as it did in 2016, according to a recently adopted two-year budget.

The city of Upper Arlington will maintain roughly the same level of expenditures and employees the next two years as it did in 2016, according to a recently adopted two-year budget.

In 2016, Upper Arlington City Council adopted an approximately $31.5 million operating budget.

On Dec. 12, council unanimously approved operating budgets projected at about $31.8 million for both 2017 and 2018.

"It's gone up about 1 percent from what we adopted last year," said Cathe Armstrong, Upper Arlington finance director.

In addition to expecting to essentially maintain expenditures over the next two years, the city's work force will not change significantly.

Armstrong said the city plans to create two new positions in 2017. That comes after the city eliminated 22 positions in the 2013-14 budget.

One of the new employees will serve as the city's webmaster, and other will work as a Public Services Division supervisor.

The latter position, Armstrong said, is being restored after it was one of two supervisor posts eliminated in the Public Services Division several years ago.

"No positions are being eliminated in this budget," Armstrong said. "We will have a total of 222 employees (in 2017)."

Another aspect of the budget not expected to change in 2017 or 2018 is the city's reserve, or "rainy day" fund.

Armstrong said the city will meet its policy of maintaining a reserve that's 30 percent of the total operating budget. So, the city will set aside $9.5 million for emergencies in the coming year.

Because of the budget's health, she added, council was able to take $3 million in unappropriated operating funds and direct them to the city's capital budget, which funds infrastructure projects such as streets and water lines.

"In '17, we've got a (capital improvements) program that's $15.9 million," Armstrong said. "Since we passed Issue 23 (in November 2014), we've really tried to front-load some of this and we're doing a lot of street work next year, as well."

The 2018 capital budget has been approved at $12.9 million.

According to information posted to the city's website, other highlights of the two-year budget include:

The Upper Arlington Fire Division's budget will drop from about $8.462 million in 2016, to $8.268 million in 2017. It was approved at $8.387 million for 2018.

The Upper Arlington Police Division will have an $8.061 million budget in 2017 and an $8.299 million budget in 2018. In 2016, its budget was $8.123 million.

The Upper Arlington Parks and Recreation Department had a $3.297 million budget in 2016. It has been approved to have budgets of $3.341 million and $3.409 million in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

The General Administration budget, which funds expenses such as fuel, paper and organization membership fees, will have budgets of $2.358 million and $2.236 million in 2017 and 2018, respectively. In 2016, the city spent $2.329 million for those services.

After spending $1.497 million for fleet maintenance in 2016, the city plans to spend $1.5 million in 2017 and $1.183 million in 2018.

The Public Works Division, which has duties ranging from clearing city streets during winter to pothole and curb repair, is set to receive $1.117 million in 2017 and $1.139 million in 2018. It received $1.128 million in 2016.

The Finance and Administrative Services Division received $1.145 million in 2016 and is set to receive $1.188 million in 2017 and $1.212 million in 2018.

The City Manager's Office is slated to receive $1.039 million in 2017 and $1.06 million in 2018. In 2016, the office received $1.067 million.

City Manager Ted Staton called the two-year budget process a success, noting the city has worked hard to control "long-term expenditures."

"By shrinking the work force (in recent years) and controlling the growth of health care and other benefit costs, we have freed up funds to spent on reinvesting in infrastructure," Staton said.

"We just finished a record-setting year of investments in capital improvements and we plan to set another record in 2017.

"I think we are doing what our citizens expect -- focus on the nuts and bolts. We are improving streets, parks and utility systems and continuing our high level of public safety services."

Staton said several city surveys have indicated more than 60 percent of residents think the city is headed in the right direction, and he believes fiscal management is a key to those views.

"Our budget policies, carefully crafted by the city council, support these investments," he said. "We think this strategy is sustainable well into the future."

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