Lebanon’s budget for 2023 includes increase in road work spending; adding public safety positions

Lebanon residents will see a lot more orange barrels next year as the city is budgeting a 90% increase in spending or more than $10.5 million on roadway resurfacing and reconstruction.

City Manager Scott Brunka recently presented the 2023 proposed operating budget to City Council, which will vote on it Nov. 16.

The proposed budget includes total revenues of nearly $107.8 million; and total expenditures of more than $122.2 million. Brunka said the total expenditures are significantly higher than revenues due to the fact that the budget supports utilizing $14 million in electric fund cash reserves for substation and generation improvements in 2023.

Brunka said the 2023 budget is projecting a 6% increase in total revenues for the city over 2022, “which is a reflection of the strong business and job growth that the city is experiencing. This growth has allowed the city to make substantial new investments in our road improvement program and public safety operations in 2023. Spending on roadway resurfacing and reconstruction is increasing by 90% in 2023, and additional police and firefighter/EMS positions are being added in our public safety departments.”

Brunka said Lebanon has one of the lowest income tax rates in southwest Ohio at 1% and credits 0.5% paid to other cities.

Brunka said income tax supported funds include the general fund allocated $19.2 million to cover general government, police, parks, planning, etc.; $11 million allocated for capital improvements such as the road program and facilities; and $300,000 ($0.30 million) for debt service for the general obligation fund.

The city also has several restrictive funds as part of the overall 2023 operating budget that cannot be used for general government spending. Those funds include: $56 million for utilities enterprise fund; $11.5 million in special revenue funds for fire and street levies; Tax Increment Financing and impact fees; $21.1 million in improvement funds for reserve and replacement; an $3.1 million internal service fund to cover self-insurance and auto maintenance costs; and $3 million in trust and agency funds. In addition, the budget includes $6.94 million in grant funding.

Brunka said there will be a 2% increase in water rates and sewer rates; sanitation increases will rise per ordinance; and no changes in electric or storm water utility rates.

Three major road improvement projects planned in 2023 include:

  • The North Cherry Street reconstruction project that includes roadway, sanitary and storm sewer, and a water main. The cost of the project is $2.93 million.
  • The 2023 road resurfacing program at various locations. The project cost will be $3.29 million;
  • The Ohio Department of Transportation Urban Paving Program Phase 1 covering portions of Ohio 63, Ohio 48 and U.S. 42. The cost will be $5.23 million.

Brunka said an additional $750,000 is being transferred from the general fund to the capital improvement fund for roadway projects.

Other programs and projects in the budget include: $290,000 for Pleasant Park playground replacement; $1.4 million from a state grant for the Parkside Park bike trail construction; $100,000 establish a public safety reserve and replacement fund for a new police station; $25,000 to establish facade improvement pilot program funding; $60,000 to replace gateway signage; and $15.1 million for electric generation and Glosser Road substation.

The city plans to convert nine part-time Fire/EMS positions to full-time, six of the positions depends on a SAFER grant be awarded; hire one more police officer for a potential school resource officer; add one more person for the public works department.

Brunka said there will be 2% cost of living raise and 1.5% performance wage increases are in the budget. In addition, there will be a one-time, $250 payment to employees due to below inflationary 2022 wage.

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