By Katelyn Sattler
The city of Obetz passed its 2022 budget in December.
Obetz’s general fund for 2022 totals more than $16.2 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 purchases only – adds up to more than $23 million.
“Council may, at any time, adjust the budget as it deems necessary – as limited by outstanding invoices,” said Obetz City Administrator Rod Davisson.
The total $40.2 million appropriations budget only covers the city’s expenses and does not include revenue. For example, while the city has appropriated $2.8 million for water operations, $2.2 million for sewer operations, $6.7 million for electricity operations, $425,000 for refuse operations, and $1.6 million for gas operations, they are all offset by money coming into the city.
“In the federal government, you can spend more money than you make,” said Davisson. “That is not the case with local government. The maximum amount of money you can spend is what you have in the bank.”
Over the past four years, the city has had a carryover of funds from the previous years including $6.5 million in 2018, $6.2 million in 2019, $4.2 million in 2020, and $5.5 million in 2021.
Davisson could not say for certain what the carryover into 2022 will be, yet. He might know better in February, but believes it could be around $7 million.
The city budgeted $3.5 million in economic development, the majority of which is $2.8 million in payments to another political subdivision. This would be 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 of 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’d 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.”
Davisson presented some Cost Center Accounting of Youth Sports, the Obetz Athletic Club, the Splash Pad/Ice Rink, the Community Center, Dixon Quarry, Zucchinifest, and the Fortress. All showed losses over the past four years, except Dixon Quarry, which showed a profit in 2018.
The Obetz Zucchinifest showed a loss of $380,632 this year and losses of $332,952, $331,526, $281,890, and $111,743 over the previous four years. The largest expense for Zucchinifest is entertainment. The city contracted this year with several bands and Winger for $422,236.
“It’s a base. It’s what level band do you want in here,” said Davisson. “So, we’ve gone from $235,000 (in 2016) to $422,000, and I think that’s reflected in the band that you see. The other big cost, quite frankly, is in personnel services, which is another $40 grand. So, because we have such a lack of volunteers, we’ve covered that with staff. We have to pay a bunch of overtime. But the more volunteers we can get to work in these areas, the better.”
Obetz does not charge for rides at Zucchinifest.
“The ride vendors come in and do their thing, and give the city a cut of 30 percent,” said Davisson. “But, the city has had trouble getting rides for the festival because of Tyler’s law, which was designed to make rides safer in Ohio after the tragedy of the teen being killed on a ride at the Ohio State Fair. We have spaces designed for a company that has probably a dozen more rides that they couldn’t bring this year. They’re getting out of the business, they’ve had enough. We are currently scrounging the country to get somebody who does as well and is willing to come to Ohio on that day. It can get a lot bigger. More food vendors would help because we make money on those. We just charge them rent from the space in there.”
The city could charge a small admission fee per person to attend the Zucchinifest, but Davisson said, “We’re careful about that because we never want to exclude a resident or a kid who couldn’t afford to attend.”