By Rick Palsgrove
The city of Groveport’s 2023 budget reflects the rising costs of the modern economy.
Groveport City Council approved the budget Nov. 14.
“We want to improve and update what we have. It’s a strong budget,” said Groveport City Administrator B.J. King. “It considers the increased cost of operations, which includes higher fuel costs as well as increases in wages and employee health insurance. We are hopeful we can do some things to lower the health insurance costs. We are looking into health insurance cost options, including plans such as Medicare for those who may be eligible.”
King said the 2023 budget targets the need for continued investment in infrastructure as well as investing in the day-to-day services provided to city residents and businesses.
“The budget anticipates an increase in a little over $1.2 million in general fund revenues when compared to 2022,” said King. “The anticipated combined expenditures for all funds is up $6.1 million compared to 2022. This increase, in part, constitutes an anticipated double digit increase to health insurance costs, continued investment in infrastructure improvements, replacement of aging equipment, and an initial investment in updating our security and information technology (IT) infrastructure.”
Total estimated appropriations for 2023 are $48.1 million, which is up from $42 million in 2022.
Total estimated generated revenues for 2023 are $32.7 million, which is down from $35.8 million in 2022.
The general fund revenue for 2023 is estimated at $17.6 million, which is up from $16.4 million in 2022. The bulk of this funding comes from income tax revenue, which is projected to be $15.7 million in 2023 compared to $14.8 million in 2022.
Other estimated 2023 revenues include $540,000 from property taxes and various other amounts in other city fund categories that include grants, taxes, leases, fees, and permits.
KidSpace demolition/more parking
A large capital project is the proposed demolition of KidSpace, 630 Wirt Road, and replacing it with additional public parking at a cost of $500,000.
King said several downtown area businesses have expressed a need for more public parking and the city is looking at its options.
He said city officials will not make a decision on demolishing KidSpace until, “We have a firm home for the kids’ programs housed there. No KidSpace programs will be sacrificed.”
He said a possible home for the KidSpace programs could be Groveport Town Hall at 648 Main St.
Currently the public parking lots south of Main Street are often full.
“We’re looking at how to fulfill our need for more parking downtown,” said King.
King said the timing of when the proposed demolition of KidSpace would take place and when the parking spaces would be added is to be determined.
“Assuming the budget is approved, we would proceed with getting design quotes for the project,” said King. “I anticipate this would occur in mid-summer 2023.”
King said the number of new parking spaces that would be created is to be determined after all requirements are put into the plan.
“The plan would be designed once an engineering firm is hired for the project,” said King.
King said the $500,000 cost is for the entire project, including demolition of KidSpace and parking lot construction.
The building was built in 1955 and was originally the Groveport Municipal Building for many years and later was home to the senior center. KidSpace moved into the building in the early 2000s after the senior center moved to the Groveport Recreation Center.
According to King, there are other cost factors to consider regarding the KidSpace building as the 67-year-old structure has leaks, needs a new roof at an estimated cost of $70,000, and the HVAC system needs to be replaced.
The KidSpace building also includes two public art works – a mural on an interior wall depicting Groveport during the Ohio and Erie Canal era and a Groveport Elementary student art project on an exterior wall. When asked if these art works would be saved, King said, “This is all based on the condition of the murals and the design of the project. This will be determined during design of the project.”
Wert’s Grove/Rarey’s Port buildings
The budget includes $1.1 million for the interior construction build out of the second floors of the new Wert’s Grove and Rarey’s Port buildings ($550,000 for each).
“The second floors (of these buildings) were funded by tax revenue (i.e. income tax),” said King “That being the case, the spaces can’t be directly leased to for profit companies. The uses must be government (which is non-profit) or other non-profit organizations. The first floors were funded by non-tax revenue, so via the Community Investment Corporation, the spaces could be directly leased to for profit companies.”
Construction is progressing on the 14,145 square foot Rarey’s Port (674 Main St.) and the 12,184 square foot Wert’s Grove (480 Main St.) buildings that are part of the city of Groveport’s 1847 Main Project.
The potential opening dates of the buildings’ first floor businesses is expected at the end of 2022 or early 2023.
Delaney’s Diner – a breakfast, lunch, brunch restaurant – will occupy space in the Rarey’s Port building. Little Italy Pizza, which has operated at 619 Main St. for 43 years, plans to move into the Wert’s Grove building.
Little Italy will occupy the entire first floor of the Wert’s Grove building. Delaney’s Diner will occupy 4,958 square feet of the first floor of the Rarey’s Port building on the west end of the building, including the patio. City officials are seeking tenants for the remaining 2,059 square feet of the Rarey’s Port building’s first floor.
Other capital improvement projects
“The capital budget is one percent higher than last year,” said King.
Some significant capital projects and purchases proposed for 2023 include:
•$550,000 for street maintenance;
“The streets to be included in the street maintenance program will be determined in early 2023,” said King. “Our process is to have our engineer and Public Works Department assess the conditions of roads and determine costs.”
•$110,000 for street maintenance/stormwater:
•$240,000 for police patrol vehicles and equipment;
•$220,000 for the west Bixby Road pavement rehabilitation;
•$80,000 for IT server upgrade; $50,000 for IT switch upgrade; and $30,000 for IT firewall upgrade;
King said these information technology upgrades are important, “To keep us protected from current cyber threats that exist for all organizations today. Additionally, to make sure that our systems are compliant, secure, and seamlessly operational for day-to-day business.”
•$80,000 for fitness equipment at the recreation center;
•$55,000 for Marketing Place reconstruction;
•$40,000 for Degenhart Park playground equipment; $35,000 for Blacklick Park playground equipment; and $20,000 for tennis court repairs;
•$225,000 for the golf course entrance driveway;
•$30,000 for sidewalk replacements;
•$63,000 for an all terrain vehicle/snow equipment;
•$62,000 for a utility truck;
•$210,000 for a two and a half ton truck;
•$155,000 for a roadside mowing tractor;
•$107,000 for a rough mower for the golf course;
•$84,000 for a triplex mower for the golf course; and
•$317,384 for recreation and aquatic center maintenance, repairs, and upgrades.
Budgets in previous years mentioned the proposed construction of a new additional water tower, but that project is not included in the 2023 budget.
“The additional water tower, when listed with infrastructure priorities, was determined to be a lower need,” said King. “We understand the importance of redundancy for our water system, however, the system we currently have in place is sufficient to meet our needs.”
The 2023 general fund appropriations are estimated at $21 million, which is up from $20.1 million in 2022. Some other proposed 2023 appropriations:
•Revenue sharing with Groveport Madison Schools, $1.3 million; and
•Funding for festivals including $59,450 for the Fourth of July; $25,000 for Christmas – A Heritage Holiday; $29,050 for Apple Butter Day; and $21,050 for the Farmers Market and First Thursdays.