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Council expected to OK $5.8M budget

SALEM

City council is expected to pass the 2020 budget tonight, showing expenses of more than $5.8 million in the general fund, with plans to borrow for the purchase of a new fire pumper truck next year.

The Finance Committee of city council finalized discussions for the budget during a recent meeting where Mayor John Berlin explained the need for the new fire pumper. The fire department fleet includes two pumper trucks, a platform ladder truck, a grass truck, a pickup and the fire chief’s SUV.

The pumper to be replaced is more than 20 years old and Berlin said the department has been spending a ton of money on repairs. The purchase would be done under state purchasing and the estimated cost was $670,000, which is $370,000 for the basic truck and another $300,000 for the add-ons needed by the fire department.

The plan would be to borrow the money as a long-term commitment and have the payment come out of the capital improvements fund. Berlin commented that for every year the purchase is delayed, the price goes up.

The capital fund amount was estimated at $1.4 million, with money for paving, two more police cruisers and new phone system for city hall, along with the fire truck payment, all on the list for spending from the fund. Berlin said the police vehicles are on a rotation and they try to replace at least two per year through state purchasing. He said the city has been lucky with the local Ford dealership willing to accept the state price in recent years. The retired vehicles are then passed down to the housing inspectors and Planning & Zoning.

During the committee meeting, Councilman Geoff Goll noted how close the appropriations are to the expected revenue amount in the general fund, which is what pays for the operations in city hall, mayor’s office, treasurer, auditor, law director, council, street lighting, service/safety, traffic safety, civil service, housing and zoning, the police and the fire departments.

With appropriations of more than $5.8 million and revenue expected of more than $5.4 million in the general fund, that’s only a difference of more than $400,000. Considering a carryover of $1.5 million is expected to start the year from this year, the city’s cash flow will be positive.

The budget also includes estimated expenses of more than $24 million in the other funds, which includes the capital improvements, streets, housing inspections and utilities, among other funds. Noted was the fact that the wastewater reserve fund is down to $7.8 million in the budget. The fund was listed at more than $13 million last year, but there has been some major work going on at the wastewater treatment plant, which is going through a series of upgrades to meet requirements of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Tonight’s council meeting starts at 7, but will be preceded by an Economic Development Committee meeting at 6 p.m., both in council chambers at city hall. This is also expected to be the last council meeting of the year since council agreed to cancel the meeting that would have been held on Dec. 17.

mgreier@salemnews.net

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