Canal Winchester's proposed spending blueprint for 2019 is before City Council, which must approve it by year's end.

Anticipated general fund expenditures are $8.7 million, up from the $8.3 million projected for this year. The fund pays for everything from salaries and benefits to police protection, street maintenance and the swimming pool.

"We prioritize what we are going to do," city finance director Amanda Jackson told council members during a work session in October. "Some things are in the 'need' category, and some things are definitely in the 'want' category.

"Our goal ultimately (is) that our revenues minus our expenditures are going to equal zero, so we're not spending money out of the fund balance."

The 2019 budget received its first reading during council's Nov. 5 meeting.

Under Ohio law, cities must have a budget approved by a governing body before any money can be spent. The process begins with a review of the tax budget, followed by meetings with the mayor and department directors to help determine expenses, including salaries, benefits, annual contracts or purchases, projects and capital expenditures.

Canal Winchester's largest revenue source is its income tax, which delivers nearly 80 percent of annual revenue, Jackson said. The 2 percent rate applies to individuals who work in the city as well as those who live in the city and work elsewhere.

Beginning Jan. 1, Canal Winchester will join the Regional Income Tax Agency (RITA). The city of Columbus announced during the summer that it would no longer collect income taxes for area municipalities.

The city will pay RITA around 2 percent of what's collected for the service.

"Our total fiscal year 2019 revenue is $8.7 million," Jackson said of the general fund, which had an $8.1 million balance at the end of October. "This is about a $500,000 increase for what was budgeted for 2018, the bulk of that (increase) being property taxes. ... As you guys know, we've had a lot of new houses and some commercial development built."

However, property taxes only account for about 5 percent of city revenue, Jackson said.

Budget expenditures include $1.16 million for a new three-year contact with the Fairfield County Sheriff's Office to provide police protection for residents. The current contract for approximately $1.1 million annually expires Dec. 31.

The 2019 budget also includes quarterly payments for roughly 87 acres along Lithopolis-Winchester Road.

The city purchased the property from Kathleen McGill for more than $775,000 to develop recreational fields, tennis courts and playgrounds to enhance its parks and recreation offerings. The city will make quarterly payments over 10 years.

Projected spending in 2019 also includes $760,000 for street paving and repairs.

The city's general fund budget has grown from $6.5 million in 2014, Jackson said.

"We're doing very well as a city, and it's allowing us to do things that we have put off years ago, so don't be alarmed by any of these numbers," she said. "We are growing, and this is evidence of that."

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