Before closing business for 2018, Upper Arlington City Council unanimously approved a new city budget that will feature an approximately $38.66 million general-fund budget for 2019.
According to the city’s Finance Division, the 2019 budget represents a roughly $2.1 million increase over the 2018 budget.
The 2019 budget provides for annual wage increases of 3.25 percent for the city’s police officers, 2.95 percent for its firefighters and 2.75 percent for general employees.
It also includes approximately $13 million in capital-improvement projects, which is about $3 million less than in 2018. Projects for the new year include reconstruction of 10 local streets and the resurfacing of 25 more. The buidget also includes $1.4 million for a roof replacement at the city’s Municipal Services Center.
Deputy City Manager Dan Ralley said Upper Arlington has invested $53 million in infrastructure since 2014 and the newly approved budget continues the “pattern of reinvestment throughout our community.”
He said the budget “maintains the high level of services that Upper Arlington residents expect within the guiding framework of the city’s fiscal policies and public accountability.
“Since 2014, $53 million has been invested in the city’s infrastructure, and the budget continues this pattern of reinvestment throughout our community.”
Water, sewer rates
The budget also brings with it 5 percent increases to rates residents pay for both water and sewer services. Despite opposition from Councilmen Brian Close and Jim Lynch, the water surcharge will rise from 10 percent to 15 percent, and sewer rates will go from 18 percent to 23 percent.
“I just feel like I don’t want to be nickel-and-diming our residents, especially after we had an income tax increase a couple years ago, we had a school levy increase; we had reassessment of our people’s property values,” Lynch said. “I think when you add all those up, they’re significant.”
According to the Finance Division, the increases will cost a single household about $13 more per quarter, and a household of four will see an average increase of about $39 per quarter.
Council President Kip Greenhill and Councilwoman Michele Hoyle countered by saying the increases are needed to help maintain the city’s water and sewer infrastructure.
Police, fire, parks
In 2019, the Upper Arlington Police Division will receive an appropriation of approximately $9.2 million that among other things will allow it to add two school resource officers and one full-time police officer.
The Upper Arlington Fire Division will receive approximately $9.3 million, which includes funding for a coordinator for the Community Assistance Referrals and Education Services program.
It was established by the Upper Arlington Fire Division in September 2017 to provide wellness services, including CPR training, home safety and follow-up home visits for new parents and elderly residents, to help them avoid emergency trips to the hospital and related medical costs.
Not including capital projects, the Parks and Recreation Division will receive about $3.8 million in 2019.
Other department appropriations include the City Manager’s Office, which is budgeted for about $1.3 million; the Public Works and Finance divisions, which each will receive approximately $1.2 million; the Public Works Division, which is earmarked for about $1.02 million; the Public Services Division, which will receive about $968,500; and the City Attorney’s Office, which is slated to receive approximately $756,000.