Dublin's operating budget for next year includes several new staff members for the Northwest Regional Emergency Communications Center in Dublin.

The NRECC is based in Dublin police headquarters and is a safety communications-agency partnership with police departments in Dublin, Hilliard and Upper Arlington and fire departments in Upper Arlington and Norwich and Washington townships.

The partnership soon will include Worthington. The Worthington City Council authorized the partnership in May, and the NRECC will begin dispatching services for Worthington in July.

In anticipation of that, the operating budget for the Dublin police department includes the addition of three communication technicians, two communications supervisors, two communications managers and one operations manager, for a total of eight new staff members.

The 2020 operating budget includes funding for two additional "temporary" police-officer positions to allow for future anticipated retirements. A deputy chief position is also slated to change back into a police officer position.

Justin Paez, formerly deputy chief, in June was named , after former chief Heinz von Eckartsberg retired from the Dublin Police Department to become assistant superintendent with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

With those changes, the number of police officers will go from 53 this year to 54 next year, according to the budget.

City officials said the two "temporary" police-officer positions have been a line in the budget for several years.

The practice allows the city to fill up to two positions more than the typically budgeted headcount of 72 sworn personnel, so if officers would announce plans to retire, the city could staff up to 74 sworn personnel in order to prepare and train new officers to fill the vacancies that would be created upon the veteran officers' retirements.

Without such a practice and waiting until the position is vacated by retirement the city could be waiting for as much as a year if not more before being able to utilize a replacement officer in a full capacity, officials said.

If no one retires, then the "temporary" positions are not filled and funding is not allocated.

City Council approved the 2020 operating budget with a 6-0 vote Nov. 18.

The 2020 operating budget expenditures total $95.7 million, said Matt Stiffler, the city's interim director of finance.

By department, Stiffler said, the operating budget includes:

* $6,098,430 for information technology.

* $18,184,460 for police.

* $21,832,845 for public works.

* $21,875,110 for parks and recreation.

* $7,526,245 for finance.

* $8,825,915 for development.

* $11,375,405 for general government.

Budgeted operating expenditures for 2020 are expected to be $95.7 million, while budgeted operating revenues are expected to be $92.9 million Stiffler said.

He said setting budgeted operating expenditures above budgeted operating revenues is the city's standard practice.

"It is our expectation that by the end of each year, actual revenues will exceed actual expenditures," he said.

For 2019, operating revenues are expected to exceed operating expenditures, Stiffler said. The city is expected to have $54.4 million left in its general fund by the end of 2019, he said.

Dublin's 2020 budget reflects the city's conservative budgeting philosophy, said councilwoman Christina Alutto, who is chairwoman of council's public services committee.

"Dublin's budgetary approach allows for unforeseeable circumstances to occur without throwing the city into a fiscal tailspin," she said.

It is an approach the city has used for a long time to ensure the fiscal health of the community, she said.

Economic development should be Dublin's focus in coming months and years, Alutto said.

The budget demonstrates that the city's revenue has grown at a relatively slow pace while expenditures have grown at a more moderate pace, she said.

"Over time this could prove to be problematic; however, we should also note that historically the city's revenue actuals have outpaced projections while expenditures have come in under projections," Alutto said.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah