Officials say City of WCH in good shape financially

City of WCH releases 2017 financial summary

By Bev Mullen - For the Record-Herald

City officials say 2017 was a good year financially for Washington Court House.

Washington C.H. City Manager Joseph Denen along with Tom Riley, director of finance for the city, recently released the 2017 fiscal summary.

Total income came in just under $19 million, according to the 2017 fiscal summary. Conversely, total expenses for last year were around $18.5 million.

Expenses were below budget due primarily to a loss in the number of city police officers. The addition of more police officers has naturally caused the expense side to go up. When one looks at the income & expenses graph accompanying this story, it shows that for the most part, the city spent as much as it made.

Breaking the budget down into three separate funds makes it easier to digest, according to Denen. The first fund is the general fund. This is the largest line item for the city. It is broken down into two categories: personnel and operations. Personnel is the largest general fund item because it is people-driven. Operations/capital expense is also part of the general fund. If it is not personnel, it falls under this last category, said city officials.

Next is the water fund. Interestingly, the water fund — both income and expense numbers — are driven by the weather. If it is a wet summer, less water is used for watering lawns and gardens. If it is a dry summer, consumption is higher: lawns, gardens, pools being filled and cars being washed. In the winter, if there are many sub-zero days, like this past winter, income may also go up because people allow their faucets to drip so their pipes won’t freeze.

Next year’s fiscal summary shows an increase on the operations side due to the large number of water main breaks this past winter. The general fund revenue & expense graph shows, again, that the city is staying well within its budget.

Lastly is the sewer fund. On the personnel side of this fund, expenses have returned to the normal side. For a number of years the wastewater department was low on employees, according to city officials. With the hiring of more staff, those expenses have fallen back into line. On the operations side of wastewater, the city is still dealing with the payments to bring the treatment plant up to code, per EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) regulations.

Leaving the different funds, one can look at income. Income for the city comes from gas tax collections, license type incomes (i.e. building permits), income tax collections and other government funds, which amount to whatever monies the state may disperse.

The oval graph shows the city’s debt. The small section is the remaining pledged debt for the fire and police buildings. According to Denen, “This section is like our house payments.” Note that this section is less than one-quarter of the whole debt.

The larger section of the graph is what it takes to run the city on a daily basis. Denen said, “ It’s just like running a home. There are many items to be paid: trash, water, electricity, filling pot holes, buying salt for the ice, purchasing a new vehicle, payroll, health insurance, etc. We, the city, cannot spend more money than we take in. Keeping the city’s finances in line is like keeping your household expenses in line.”

Sometimes things break, or people get sick, or the opportunity for a good investment for the future comes along, or you need to add another room, Denen added. “The big difference here is these are the community’s resources, so being genuine and transparent is of the utmost importance to us,” he said.

Those with questions or those who would like more in-depth information, please call the City Administration Building and ask for Riley or Denen.
City of WCH releases 2017 financial summary

By Bev Mullen

For the Record-Herald