Groveport Council passed the village’s 2009 budget, but not without a fight.
At council’s Nov. 24 meeting, the $23.9 million 2009 budget passed by a 4-2 vote with council members Donna Drury, Jean Ann Hilbert, Jim Staebler, and Ed Dildine approving it and Ed Rarey and Shawn Cleary in opposition.
"The departmental appropriations are all up, up, up," Cleary said following the meeting. "No department heads made concessions. I may be over cautious about the finances, but so what? We need to conserve."
Finance Director Ken Salak noted that some increases reflect salary and benefit numbers and that each department budget now includes benefit figures for its own employees as opposed to three years ago when benefits were budgeted separately.
Rarey opposed the budget because he feels the funds for capital improvement do not address the village’s needs.
"Commitment is an important word to me. We made a commitment for projects that we have never followed through on," said Rarey.
He cited the village’s promise of a few years ago to put sidewalks in throughout the village, which he said, "has come to a halt," and uncompleted street projects such as north West Street, north Center Street, and other streets and areas without curbs, gutters, and sidewalks.
"I hear about Front Street every day," said Rarey. "That was the first paved street in Groveport and it will be 100 years old next year. When will it be fixed properly, or are we going to keep packing mud into that street (to patch it)?"
Salak said capital improvements are based on the village’s five year capital improvement plan, which is completing its first year.
"We only have so much to spend," said Salak, who suggested council review the plan in the coming weeks. "Everything is amendable."
Councilwoman Jean Ann Hilbert suggested council begin discussing the capital projects at council’s committee of the whole meeting on Dec. 8 and then further at a special meeting in January once the year end revenues are known.
"We can’t beat ourselves up," said Hilbert. "We need to look at we have accomplished."
Rarey and Cleary also opposed council’s vote to authorize the purchase of three new police cruisers while the rest of council approved the ordinance to do so.
Police Chief Gary York said the three cars are needed because: several of the existing cruisers have high mileage; it lessens the impact on maintenance; and there are safety issues with older vehicles.
Cleary feels three new cruisers are too many noting that 8 of the 11 existing cruisers have less than 50,000 miles on them. He added that other police departments use vehicles with much higher mileage than what Groveport uses.
Rarey said the cruiser with the highest mileage of 91,000 does not have enough mileage to be discarded.
"These cars are designed to go 150,000 miles," said Rarey. "It’s lavish to add three."
The 2009 budget includes $795,000 for the Kessler Street reconstruction project, slated for 2009; and $110,000 for engineering the Lesleh Avenue reconstruction project, with construction expected to take place in 2010.
Also featured in the budget is $60,000 for 3,000 linear feet of curb and gutter replacement in the village and $15,000 for sidewalk work.
The budget also includes:
•an estimated 12 to 15 percent increase in employee benefit costs;
•community service grants of $25,000 to Motts Military Museum and $20,000 to the local civic and community service organization Go Groveport!;
•an estimated $1.4 million in income tax revenue sharing for Groveport Madison Local Schools.
The 2009 departmental budgets (with the 2008 budget in parenthesis) are:
•Police, $2.3 million; ($2.1 million).
•Cemetery, $45,000; ($16,500). The increase includes money for tombstone repairs and $16,000 for an imaging camera to locate unmarked graves.
•Community Affairs, $492,361, which includes $20,000 for physical improvements to KidSpace on Wirt Road; ($447,722).
•Senior Center, $90,399; ($85,674).
•Senior Transportation, $279,548; ($258,177).
•Administration, $911,017; ($955,324).
•Finance, $1.9 million; ($1.5 million).
•Economic Development, $224,856; ($209,201).
•Recreation , $1.7 million; ($1.6 million).
•Parks, $640,076; ($568,352).
•Aquatic Center, $379,571; ($367,289).
•Golf, $393,915; ($397,305).
•Golf Maintenance, $633,156; ($900,000).
•Street, $925,960; ($905,718).
•Capital Projects, $1.4 million; ($3.2 million).
•Water, $365,945; ($418,549).
•Sewer, $229,562; ($220,688).
•Water Capital, $758,257; ($1.5 million).
•Sewer Capital, $1.5 million; ($2.3 million).
•Building, $516,916; ($510,083).
•Debt service, $6.6 million; ($6.5 million).