City council OKs first reading of ‘22 budget, talks future water rates


By John Hamilton - jhamilton@wnewsj.com



WILMINGTON — Wilmington City Council members held the first reading of an ordinance that would approve the 2022 city budget at Thursday night’s council meeting.

Mayor John Stanforth said he is happy with the budget which currently sits at over $69.8 million, an over $8 million increase from the 2021 budget.

“This is a responsible budget with spending matching revenue. It reflects investments in our infrastructure and future,” said Stanforth. “With investments like beginning the rebuild of Davids Drive, expanding transit services to better serve our citizens, and moving forward with construction drawings of the Sugartree Corridor, council and our citizens can be confident their government is at work to meet the present and growing needs of the community.”

Stanforth added the budget reflects a fully staffed police department and the completion of the Rombach Avenue resurfacing project. It also included the beginning of “the largest infrastructure project the city has undertaken,” and the construction of the new wastewater treatment plant.

The budget saw one of the biggest increases in the Stormwater Utility Fund, which went from $40,000 to over $1.04 million, due to the creation of the separate Stormwater Utility in September 2020.

Consulting services was the only item the fund was for in 2021; the fund now includes expenses for salaries, employee benefits, engineering, vehicle maintenance, and public outreach.

Among the differences in the proposed budget are: the elimination of the cemetery fund in the general budget due to the recent levy passing; increase in salaries for the law director’s office, the maintenance department, and for cemetery workers; and the increase in the projected police fuel cost.

Councilmember and Finance Committee Chair Kristi Fickert expressed thanks to the department heads and city officials for their work on the budgets and explaining things.

The future readings are scheduled for the next two council meetings.

Water rates

Council also held the first reading of an ordinance that would see an increase in water rates within the city limits. If passed, the rate would increase in the city between Jan. 1, 2022 and Dec. 31, 2022. After that, the amount of the annual rate increases would be less.

The area that would see an increase outside the city limits is in the over 200,000 gallons for premises — going from $9.64 to $10.12 next year, then $10.43 in 2023, and then $10.74 in 2024.

Councilmember Nick Eveland said he is hoping to have more discussions with Utilities Director Rick Schaffer about rates at future meetings.

The future readings are scheduled for the next two council meetings.

Also during council:

• Safety/Service Director Brian Shidaker informed officials and meeting attendees that a part of construction occurring in front of Dairy Queen on Rombach Avenue was not a median. A pedestrian safety island was being constructed to allow people to cross the road from Denver Williams Park safely.

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By John Hamilton

jhamilton@wnewsj.com

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574