Special to 1808Delaware

City of Delaware departments cut nearly $2 million from the proposed 2024 operating budget, but the spending plan presented to City Council still will require dipping into the City’s fund balance.

A significant portion of the $2.2 million transfer – $1.8 million – will go toward Municipal Court and Clerk of Court operations.

“Every budget I have proposed over the last 25 years presented challenges and opportunities,” City Manager Tom Homan said. “The 2024 budget, however, presents an issue of unprecedented magnitude. This type of revenue gap filling is not sustainable.” 

The entire proposed 2024 operating budget is viewable at delawareohio.net

The Delaware Municipal Court and Clerk of Court serve all of Delaware County and are the only City functions that do not come under the executive and administrative authority of the manager or council, with much of their respective operations prescribed by the Ohio Revised Code. Beginning in 2022, court revenues began to decline as the number of criminal and traffic cases filed with the court also declined. The decrease in cases has not equated to a decrease in court staff workload. A majority of the court workload is in traffic and criminal cases that cannot be waived and paid online, and typically require more attention from the court. These non-minor misdemeanor traffic and criminal will increase as Delaware County grows.

Department cuts reflected in the proposed budget included most new position requests; for building maintenance and information technology; some infrastructure upkeep; and in recreation where new programming is being deferred.

“While the possibilities for enhancing our services are endless, funding is not,” Homan wrote in his budget message to Council. “… the City faces a significant challenge with the funding of the courts, which will likely impact future budgets.”

Budget Highlights:

  • Revenue for the General Fund portion of the budget which funds the bulk of City operations is expected to decline by 4.4 percent when compared to 2023. Revenue is projected at $34,782,570 and expenditures are projected at $37,012,658.
  • The proposed transfer from the $11 million fund balance into the 2024 budget is $2,230,088. Freezing City services at the current level, without any additional revenue, would exhaust the fund balance completely by 2027.
  • Income tax revenues continue to trend upward, though the growth has slowed. Estimates for the end of 2023 put income tax revenues at 2 percent over the 2023 budget.

The budget was introduced at the November 13 Council meeting.  A second reading and public hearing was on November 27.  A third reading and public hearing will occur December 11 and additional public review sessions by the Finance Committee will take place. All meeting dates and times appear on the City’s website.

Source: City of Delaware; Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

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