Whitehall adopts 'conservative' 2021 budget

Gary Seman Jr.
ThisWeek group
The Whitehall Municipal Building is at 360 S. Yearling Road.

The city of Whitehall will deficit spend by $255,480 in 2021 but still will remain in the black because of carryover funds, according to the operating budget approved Dec. 15 by Whitehall City Council.

The city estimates the total income for 2021 to be just under $34 million, about $1 million less that was spent in 2020. Meanwhile, the city saw a 3% dip in revenue over the past year, attributed to the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The good news is the city has a little more than $5 million of balance to carry over, meaning – if budget projections are accurate – Whitehall would finish 2021 with $4.8 million in reserve.

“Front of mind in this budget process was how to move the city's major goals and initiatives forward without overextending our resources should the COVID-19 pandemic continue to negatively impact local income-tax revenues and otherwise strain daily health-safety operations,” Mayor Kim Maggard said. “While we look forward to the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination, we also understand that our residents and businesses may be slow to rebound, and for that reason, we've adopted a conservative budget.”

Although multiple capital-improvements projects were deferred in 2020 because of the uncertain financial impact of COVID-19, the 2021 capital budget includes a plan to reinvest more than $4 million into the city’s infrastructure, fleet and technology, according to the budget.

Facility-maintenance projects planned for 2021 include: $26,800 for the Whitehall Division of Police station, $85,000 for the Whitehall Division of Fire station, $100,000 for the Municipal Building; and a reserve of $300,000 for the Columbus Division of Water to cover potential water-main-break repairs.

Additional outside funding sources will help Whitehall take care of some of its infrastructure needs. For example, $1.1 million from the Ohio Department of Transportation Municipal Bridge Program will go toward the Elbern Avenue and Etna Street bridge-replacement projects, and $4 million from the Ohio Public Works Commission will be invested in the widening and rehabilitation of Poth Road.

Council President Tom Potter said the budget was resilient despite the challenges of 2020.

“I think it’s a very responsible budget that addresses the needs of the departments, as well as providing the best services we can for citizens,” Potter said.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary