Lebanon approves largest budget in city’s history

Lebanon’s operating budget will top $100 million in 2022 as the city continues to grow into the future.

City Manager Scott Brunka said the 2022 operating budget was the first year Lebanon’s budget has exceeded $100 million in estimated revenue and expenses.

The city’s budget includes 49 separate funds, each representing a specific function. For 2022, the city is anticipating nearly $101.8 million in total revenues (including inter-fund transfers), and total expenditures of nearly $103.7 million.

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The 2022 budget is up more than 20% from the 2021 total revenues of more than $81.2 million and total expenditures of more than $82.8 million, according to City Auditor Dan Burke.

Brunka said the city’s anticipated expenditures are exceeding revenues because Lebanon is budgeting to pay off $2.2 million in existing roadway debt; making electric system capital improvements to replace the Glosser Road substation; and utilizing tax increment financing cash reserves to pay down debt.

Brunka said in addition to covering the costs of essential government functions, the budget is designed to achieve council’s 2022 goals and objectives. Those areas included debt reduction, additional staffing for the fire department, grant revenue trends, street and sidewalk reconstruction, park improvements, bike trail expansion, a water and sewer rate study, a police facility study, parking meter enhancements, major capital improvements.

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“We’re a full service community,” Brunka said.

The city’s general fund, which covers most of the general government operating departments such as police, streets, etc. anticipates about $18.2 million in revenues and just more than $19 million in expenses in 2022. This is also up from the 2021 budget in which $13.9 million in total revenues and $14.1 million in total expenditures was anticipated, according to Burke.

Brunka told council the city’s projected deficit of $826,482 in general fund expenditures will be offset by using $1.1 million general fund cash reserves to pay off the remaining $2.2 million in the existing 2003 capital roads projects debt obligation. That is possible as the city already had a cash reserve balance that exceeded having a six-month operating reserve policy, he said. It will also save the city $242,350 a year in interest payments for another 10 years.

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Brunka also noted that Lebanon’s 1% income tax rate remains among the lowest in the region. In 2022, the city is projecting a 4% increase in income tax revenues over what the city expects to receive in 2021.

Highlights of the 2022 operating budget for Lebanon includes:

  • Allocating more than $5.36 million for roadway pavement, curbs and sidewalks which will be supported by income tax revenues and state grants. An additional $300,000 will be transferred from the general fund to the capital improvement fund for streets.
  • Transitioning three part-time firefighter/EMT positions to full-time which will allow each shift to have seven full-time and five part-time firefighter/EMTs on duty.
  • Hiring two more police officers.
  • Hiring one new employee each for the electric, parks and sewer departments.
  • Allocating $75,000 for a property acquisition reserve fund.
  • Allocating $50,000 toward a reserve fund for park maintenance.

Burke also said there were other large projects, some being one-time expenditures, that increased the city’s 2022 budget. Those included:

  • A one-time expenditure of $9 million to replace the Glosser Road Sewage Pump station. Lebanon has already received a $4 million grant from the state.
  • A one-time grant-funded expenditure of $ 2.45 million for park space, a trail and parking at the Parkside development. This is a one-time grant funded expense, but everything needs to be budgeted.
  • Other one-time expenses include the downtown public restroom project; surveillance security camera expansions; a police facility assessment; and the southern extension of the Countryside YMCA bike trail.

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