By Katelyn Sattler
Obetz City Council approved the city’s 2023 budget at its Dec. 19 meeting.
Obetz’s general fund for 2023 is around $15.8 million and can be spent on any legal city expenses, while the rest of the budget – which has a series of funds meant for specific purposes only – adds up to more than $26 million.
“Each year, we take an educated guess of how much revenue we’ll have and we always guess conservatively,” said Obetz City Administrator Rod Davisson.
In 2020, the city had $13 million in revenue and $11 million in spending, in 2021 the city had $16 million in revenue and $13 million in spending.
“This year, we estimated $16 million in revenue and $15 million in spending, but it looks like it’s going to be a bit higher and we’ll end the year at $16.7 million, probably closer to $7 million, in revenue,” said Davisson. “In order to get there, we’ve had to make a Herculean effort. We had two really bad quarters to start the year. We had two really good quarters to finish the year. As a consequence, we ended up with the largest revenue year that we’ve ever had, which is good. I don’t know what that means for next year. I can’t tell you that.”
The $41.9 million appropriations budget only covers the city’s expenses and does not include revenue. For example, while the city has appropriated $3.1 million for water operations, $2.3 million for sewer operations, $6.8 million for electricity operations, $505,000 for refuse operations, and $2.3 million for gas operations, they are all offset by money coming into the city.
“Remember, the water fund pays for the water, to fix the water, all those kinds of things,” said Davisson. “The electric appropriations also includes the cost of buying the electric and then reselling it. This doesn’t have anything to do with profit, for lack of a better description, or net income. It’s just how much it costs.”
The city budgeted $3.2 million in economic development, the majority of which is $2.8 million in payments to the Prairie-Obetz Joint Economic Development Zone. Because, per Ohio law, townships cannot collect income taxes, an agreement was passed by Prairie Township voters in November 2011 and approved by Obetz Council in July 2011 where Obetz collects income taxes from employees working in the West Broad Street corridor and pays 80 percent of it back to Prairie Township, while retaining 20 percent of the money.
Davisson said, “It can be confusing because you say, ‘Why are we spending $3 million on economic development?’ The answer is, we’re not. That JEDZ we’re in sends us a bunch of money and then we have to send them back their cut. We have to account for this income to us, even though we end up giving it right back to them. The JEDZ nets the city a million bucks. The amount you’re authorizing us to spend this year is $41 million, which is up $1 million from last year’s $40 million that we spent. We expect the revenue to obviously outpace that. We had a surprisingly good year for the way we started. It’s tough to predict what next year will look like. There’s still a threat for a recession. We have enough cushion and we’ve done this long enough to not be afraid of that. And we run hyper efficiently here. Whatever happens, we’ll figure our way through it. We’re well positioned to withstand whatever comes.”
Tentative agreement with FOP
Council ratified and approved the memorandum of understanding between the city and the Fraternal Order of Police, Capital City Lodge No. 9, authorizing back pay and longevity pay payments for 2022.
According to Davisson, “We have reached an agreement in principle with the police union. We offered to back pay them for this year. Obviously, we didn’t plan for that earlier in the year, so we have to do some appropriations to back pay the police.”
This means $204,675 will go to the police for back pay. The officers received their back pay in their accounts within days after council ratified and approved the MOU.
In the same legislation, some overtime from Christmas kickoff in the amount of $1,118 will go to the Street Fund, $2,352 will go to the Water Fund, $1,278 will go to the Sewer Fund, $2,509 will go to the Gas Fund, all for overtime pay, and $12,000 will go to the Refuse Fund to cover Waste Management Inc.’s contract to pick up the trash.
Bonus for part-time employees
Council approved for the city’s part-time employees to receive a one-time bonus this year.
“This is what it sounds like. It’s a bonus for all employees that we do at the end of the year,” Davisson said. “The full-time bonuses come from the handbook. So what we’ve done is changed our year end bonus to a longevity bonus. And the longevity bonus is included for full-timers in the handbook. But for part-timers, we’re still debating the best way to work that out. So we just went with the traditional year end bonus for part-timers.”