Proposed $58 million city budget cuts spending slightly

City leaders have given initial approval to a 2018 budget that includes nearly $10 million in capital projects and adds four new positions.

The proposed 2018 budget at $57.8 million is about $1 million smaller than this year’s budget, representing a decrease of nearly 2 percent, said Jamie Brinegar, the city’s finance director.

While city employees are slated to receive a 2 percent raise next year that will cost $360,000, officials also are proposing to create four new positions in four departments at a cost of about $200,000 including fringe benefits, Mayor Jim Lienhoop said.

The city plans to add a compliance officer in the aviation department that will be paid out of its aviation fund, while a payroll clerk in the clerk-treasurer’s office and an engineering technician in the engineering department will both be paid out of the city’s general fund. A fourth position to be added in the planning department will be paid through a combination of general fund and federal monies, Brinegar said.

Columbus City Council on Tuesday voted 6-1 to initially the 2018 budget, with Councilman Frank Miller being in opposition.

Of the overall $57.8 million, $25.6 million of that is dedicated for public safety. The city plans to spend nearly $10 million on various capital needs next year, including information service improvements of about $540,000 to upgrade its firewall and provide software updates.

In addition, $35,000 is being set aside for carpet and painting work at Columbus City Hall next year.

The police department has proposed purchasing 14 new vehicles, along with replacing about 60 body cameras for police officers and the necessary storage for the cameras as part of its $1.4 million capital spending plan.

The police department also plans to buy a new robot and X-ray equipment for its bomb squad, Police Chief Jon Rohde said.

Brinegar also said the city’s proposed tax rate next year is at 1.39 per $100 of assessed valuation, but told council members he expects the city’s certified rate to be within half a cent of its certified rate for 2017, which was 1.1316. A certified rate is expected to be provided by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance in February or March, he said.

Lienhoop said the city expects its tax rate to remain the same next year.

Miller said after the meeting that he decided to vote against the budget because he felt the city could have been more frugal in its overall spending for next year.

“Our needs and wants are much higher than the finances available,” he said.

What's next

A final reading on adopting the 2018 city budget will take place during the city council’s next meeting at 6 p.m. Oct. 17 at Columbus City Hall, 123 Washington St.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com