Mayor Kristen Brown has proposed a 2013 city budget of nearly $45.8 million, down about $2.1 million, or 4.5 percent, from this year’s budget.
Changes from the previous year’s budget include about $1.5 million of additional spending on items including the storm sewer, two additional police officers and raises for city employees.
At the same time, Brown is proposing cuts of about $3.5 million to major road projects; city departments’ expenses related to items including office paper, fuel and utilities; and the elimination of the city’s ambulance subsidy.
Budgets for the Columbus fire and police departments account for about 35 percent of the total budget, while the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department accounts for about 9 percent.
Proposed budget changes
Mayor Kristen Brown proposed 2013 budget cuts about $3.5 million from this year’s spending while adding $1.5 million, for about $2.1 million in savings.
Positions created $273,272
2.5 percent cost of living raises $500,131
Raises for police rank system $66,875
Raises for firefighter rank system $13,910
Special pay for police $66,500
Two new patrol officers $130,914
Fire Department training $25,000
Fire Department unscheduled overtime $30,000
City garage, three part-time employees $62,952
Job upgrade pay increase $2,500
City Council attorney $30,000
Key personnel pay increase $30,000
GIS System $22,000
Transit bus $124,000
Storm sewer $100,000
Total: $1.5 million
Positions eliminated $272,070
Supplies and other services $1 million
Cumulative capital for fire department $348,000
Transit overtime $15,000
Debt and pension funds $132,478
Foundation For Youth bond refinancing $50,000
Total $3.5 million
Source: City budget documents
Excluding insurance benefits and capital expenditures for appliances and furnishings, Brown is proposing a 2013 fire department budget of about $7.3 million, down about $27,000 from this year’s budget.
Raises for firefighters were offset by significant reductions for the utilities budget. The fire department is budgeted to cut its electric and gas utilities expenditures by about 48 percent.
Brown is proposing a police department budget, again excluding insurance benefits and capital expenditures, of nearly $6.7 million, up nearly $400,000, or about 6 percent. New police officers and 2.5 percent raises make up the bulk of the increase.
The parks department, despite 2.5 percent raises, would see its budget fall by nearly 7 percent, to about $4.1 million. The department would spend about $70,000 less in groundskeeping materials and repair supplies, and about $123,000 less in electric and gas utilities.
Brown is proposing that the city’s budget for capital expenditures — machines, appliances and building improvements — be increased by about $88,000, or 12.3 percent, for its main operating fund, which includes the police and fire departments.
For the parks department, which has a separate fund, Brown is proposing no capital expenditures.
However, she said the city has identified $14 million for the city’s infrastructure needs, including roads, nearly $700,000 for the roof of Hamilton Center Ice Arena and the roof and heating/cooling system at Donner Center, $250,000 to replace the restrooms at Lincoln Park and about $1.7 million for items including a new fire engine, a toter truck and a street sweeper.
Brown said Columbus City Council should discuss how best to address those needs, a portion of which could be paid with a $7.2 million loan the previous council took on to build an outdoor sports complex. The current council voted to not use the money for the sports complex but in February also chose not to pay off the loan immediately.
Brown said she still favors that the city pay off the loan immediately, because of its high interest rate and because the bulk of the improvement projects cannot be tackled until early next year, which means the money will, until then, sit in a bank account, costing the city about $1,000 a day in interest.
Brown said she would prefer that the city address immediate capital spending needs, primarily eroding infrastructure in the parks department, by using about $3.5 million the city received this year because of a state error. Additional infrastructure needs, such as $4 million in road overlays, could be tackled early next year with a smaller — and less costly — loan, she said.
The impact of Brown’s proposed budget on local property tax bills is unclear at this point, because a major factor in determining tax bills — the assessed value of all property within the city — has not yet been determined. County officials expect those numbers to be available in August.
City department leaders today will continue to present their spending requests to the council. Council members will go through the requests before adopting a budget Oct. 2.
The mayor’s proposal already has been met with changes from City Council members, who elected to add $300,000 for a subsidy to keep Columbus Regional Hospital as the city and county’s emergency ambulance provider, at least for another year.
Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!comments powered by Disqus
All content copyright ©2013 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.