Canal Winchester’s 2021 budget reflects strong finances

Scott Gerfen
ThisWeek
City of Canal Winchester

Despite the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Canal Winchester officials expect the city to enter 2021 in a strong position. 

Finance Director Amanda Jackson laid out details of the 2021 budget at City Council’s meeting Nov. 2 when members heard the first of three readings for the spending plan totaling $23.9 million. 

“We like to see at least six months of Search Assets expenditures in our general fund balance,” Jackson said. “This is going to put us closer to nine months.” 

Next year’s general fund totals $11.7 million. It accounts for city operations, including 21 full-time employees, three part-time and seasonal employees, an intern, eight elected officials and a contract with the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office for police protection. 

Overall, salaries and benefits in 2021 account for 23.3% of total general fund appropriations – nearly $2.5 million The figures include a 2% merit increase for salaries and a 12% increase in health-insurance premiums, Jackson said. 

“There’s not many cities that have a financial balance like this,” Councilman Bob Clark said. “Many of them are running in the red and can barely make debt payments and for us to get to this point, it didn’t happen overnight.” 

While the pandemic has hurt income-tax collections in some communities, Canal Winchester’s estimates have increased slightly. 

“We are still on pace with last year’s collections, currently at $74,000 more than this time last year,” Jackson said. “Based on this, we will likely finish the year at approximately $7.5 million in income-tax revenue, more than the $7.2 million estimated during the 2020 budgeting process.” 

Contracts with the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office and Franklin and Fairfield county commissioners for housing prisoners and Labor Day Festival security costs total $1.56 million. 

City Council unanimously approved legislation Oct. 19 that provides for adding a deputy to the staff assigned to Canal Winchester at a cost of $80,000 and another deputy in 2021. 

The city has a three-year agreement with the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office, which expires Dec. 31, 2021, to provide police protection for $1.16 million annually. 

The contract calls for 11 deputies, including a full-time sergeant and two deputies covering 24-hour shifts seven days a week and a third deputy to work a shift mutually agreed upon by the mayor and the sheriff. The contract will be amended to account for the additional deputies. 

The city’s construction-service fund, which includes the annual street-maintenance program, totals $1.5 million and includes contracts for engineering services and inspection fees. 

“I think the foresight and planning goes back five, six, seven years to get us to this point where we are financially,” council Vice President Mike Coolman said. “I mean, that’s keeping a keen eye on the apple, if you will. These past tough 12 months that we’ve gone through, we are very fortunate as a community to be in this kind of shape financially.” 

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