delgazette.com

Elmer Joseph “Joe” Bradbury

November 15, 2011

MELISSA MACKEY

Staff Writer

Powell City Council held its first reading Tuesday of the city’s proposed 2012 operating budget, a spending plan that reflects a continued reliance on reserve funds to balance the city’s books.

The budget also includes reduction in expenditures over this year, a move that city officials say can be done without impacting city services.

A few changes in the budget allow for this, including the elimination of membership in the Delaware County Regional Planning Commission (saving $11,960), reducing a building department position to part-time hours ($52,000) and eliminating a part-time records clerk ($10,000).

The budget sets expenditures at $6.23 million, compared to $5.85 million in revenues, which will eat away at the city’s reserve to the tune of about $381,000. The city projects a carryover general fund balance of $5.01 million at the end of 2012, which is expected to decrease each year through 2015.

“The state reduced funding and that’s addressed in the budget,” said Powell City Manager Steve Lutz. “As our revenue sources have dropped, we’ve reduced our expenditures. This budget provides similar services even though the operating budget is decreasing from last year.”

The budget also proposes not continuing the municipal tree sharing program, which helps replace dead or diseased street trees, an issue that should be reconsidered in the future, Powell City Manager Steve Lutz told council Tuesday.

The budget maintains the general fund reserve at a 17.4-percent level, or $937,500. The city’s goal has been to set aside up to 20 percent of general fund personnel and operating expenses, but the finance committee proposed the 17.5-percent level. A $75,000 contingency fund also is set aside for unplanned expenditures.

The budget plan also includes two small capital improvement projects, $50,000 for a small culvert replacement project in the city and $5,000 for a cost-share program with Delaware County and Liberty Township along Sawmill Parkway for traffic light connectivity for emergency vehicles. The budget does not include a 10-percent general fund transfer for the capital improvements program; the last transfer was for $375,552 in 2006.

Powell Councilman Tom Counts, who also serves on the city’s finance committee, said that while department heads have brought forward wish lists of articles in the past, the direction this year was to only bring forth articles that were absolutely necessary.

No members of the public made comments on the budget Tuesday night. Council will take up a second discussion and public hearing on the budget at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Village Municipal Building on Hall Street, Powell.