WILMINGTON — The 2018 city budget, expected to be approved at Thursday night’s council meeting, is lower than the 2017 budget at $40.8 million.
Mayor John Stanforth advised the budget is “responsible and conservative” and puts an emphasis on repairing streets and infrastructure and protecting safety services.
The $1.039 million difference is due to not needing to add costs for projects, according to Finance Committee chairperson Mark McKay.
“In reality, the reason it’s less is that (the 2017 budget) had projects that were billed into it. Like the U.S. 68 project, the splash park and the safe route on Truesdell Street,” said McKay.
With Safety Services, the Fire Fund was increased to $1.051 million and the Emergency Ambulance Fund to $563,194.61.
City Administrator Marian Miller cited an increase in EMS and EMT runs as a reason for this. With EMT it’s because of Narcan needed for drug overdose calls.
Many of the runs have increased overtime for the workers. The budget increase for them will allow the city to hire additional help for each shift.
“The increase will help reduce overtime as well as provide quality care on runs and improve the quality of life for the employees,” said Miller.
Other increases include the Water Fund, which will be $4.384 million, up $797,947.99 from the ‘17 budget.
Water Committee chairperson Kelsey Swindler stated during previous council meetings that the harmful algae bloom was a factor in this. She also indicated that the need to use backup water exposed problems at the water treatment plant.
She also stated the harmful algae would require capital improvements in the plant, but the city wouldn’t be able to apply if there is no appropriate debt service coverage.
To cover the costs, the Water Committee proposed legislation for a gradual rate increase over the next four years. This ordinance is set for a third and final reading at Thursday’s meeting.
“I want to emphasize that none of the water budget money will be spent on fluoridation,” said Swindler. “The only way it would is if the money could be reimbursed completely by the Ohio Department of Health.”
Mark McKay stated he’s proud of the budget and called it responsible. He gave credit to Miller and others who worked on it.
“Who knows what this year is going to bring? We may discover great things and opportunities,” said McKay.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574