The cost of providing police coverage and other services to special events arose as a concern during Delaware City Council's Nov. 26 discussion of appropriations for 2019.
Police Chief Bruce Pijanowski was among those who addressed council members during the meeting. He noted the proposed 2019 budget would add two officers to the force, which will help "address some significant issues we've been experiencing over the years in terms of our manpower."
The two new police officers will address shortages on the second and third shifts, according to a city press release. The release notes the second, or afternoon shift, is the city's busiest and the third, or midnight, shift is the first shift to lose officers to supplement other shifts.
Calls for police service have increased over the years as the city has grown, particularly with new construction on the south side, he said. At the same time, the force has faced yearly challenges from attrition, he said, with the department almost, but not quite, fully staffed.
The city also is a "destination for special events," he said, which is "great, but along with it comes very significant responsibility in terms of public safety."
Officers working at such events, he said, do so in addition to their normal workload.
Assistant City Manager Jackie Walker said the city is "fortunate to be a destination location," especially when considering it doesn't have "a Grand Canyon or anything sitting in our backyard."
The cost of hosting the events, however, involves more than just police expenses, she said; it also creates costs associated with the fire department, the public works department and the city administration.
The frequency of the events creates "a lot of fatigue," she said, with weeks at a time when city staffers can't take any time off.
City Manager Tom Homan said the cost of hosting special events is a "worthy conversation" with no quick answers. Among cities hosting similar events, he said, such expenses are a "cost of essentially doing business."
Organizations that stage the events might be able to help offset the city's costs, but any contributions are unlikely to "come close" to what the city actually spends, he added.
Some "legacy" events that have been held for decades, such as the All-Horse Parade, are unlikely to be able to contribute to the cost of city services, he said. With events added in more recent years, he said, sponsorships might be an option.
A second reading and public hearing on 2019 appropriations is set for Dec. 10, with adoption expected Dec. 20.
A city press release said the general-fund portion of the budget presented by Homan forecasts revenue of $23,724,382. Projected expenditures are $23,971,947.
In his budget message to council, the release said, Homan noted several encouraging indicators: an unemployment rate of 3.2 percent through October; 230 new jobs created so far in 2018; and household income that is growing. Delaware's primary revenue, income tax, is projected to grow in 2019 to $15,645,000, compared to $14,917,000 for 2018.
The release also notes:
* Delaware's population is expected to reach 41,500 before the end of the year. This represents a growth rate of 17.4 percent over 2010 and 6,000 new residents in that time.
* Investment-income revenue is projected at $650,000 in 2019. By comparison, it was $144,144 in 2016.
* The budget projects a reserve-fund balance of $4,216,142, or 17.6 percent of expenditures, meeting the city's financial management target of 17 percent.
* The city is increasing the fee it charges for its recycling processor. This would cost the average residential customer about $1 more per month, from the current monthly rate of $19.73 to $20.73.