During Monday’s Washington Court House City Council meeting, the legislation approving the city budget for 2021 was passed.
“(The budget) is balanced like it has always been — council has always been incredibly fiscally responsible, which means that we are in very stable fiscal shape,” said Washington C.H. City Manager Joe Denen. “In the next budget, what we try to address is a lot of the heavy equipment needs of the service department while maintaining a robust paving program. Actually, you put a little bit more money in paving next year than you did this year. It’s a very balanced budget, and we’re very pleased with that. We continue with the project at the waste water treatment plant. We’re very happy with it, and we’re very pleased that council is happy with it, and the work council put in toward completing that project.”
The first time legislation is seen and approved by council it is placed on a first reading and the second time on a second reading. Adoption of resolutions can occur once they have been placed on the second reading. Adoption of ordinances can occur once they have been placed on the third reading.
Various numbers and information from the budget that were previously reported can be found at the end of this article.
A second ordinance related to the city budget was placed on third reading and was then adopted. It allows an amendment to be made to an ordinance from 2019 providing supplemental appropriations for current expenses and other expenditures of the city.
One resolution was placed on second reading and was then adopted. The purpose of the resolution is to acknowledge the Fayette County Emergency Management Agency’s county-wide “All Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan.”
As previously reported, Fayette County Emergency Management Agency Director Melissa Havens explained, “This plan has been around for about 20 years and gets revised every five years. Once revised, it must be adopted by all the jurisdictions in order for them to continue to qualify for disaster assistance should a disaster occur (so it’s actually a federal requirement for them to participate in the update process, and then adopt the final plan).”
During the meeting, Denen thanked local small businesses for providing a safe atmosphere for people to shop in. He also stated that he wanted to express pride in the city’s grant program which distributed CARES funding to local small businesses within the city. Denen then encouraged those who still need to do holiday shopping to take advantage of the local businesses and to be safe this holiday season.
“Please, this Christmas, keep in mind the need to address the virus. I know that this will be even harder than Thanksgiving. For many of us, Christmas is a time of religious and family significance. While attention to the virus is needed, no reason exists not to experience the joy of the season. I will not presume to tell you what to do — you know the risk and you understand your responsibility to your family and your community,” said Denen. “In the season that expresses love and compassion, let us remember that loving and caring take many forms. While holiday celebrations may be smaller or observed in different ways, the spirit of the season remains undiminished. I wish everyone a happy and safe Christmas.”
Several council members wished all community members to have a merry and safe Christmas. Council member Caleb Johnson asked that people stay in for Christmas this year.
“Christmas is one of those times where we’d like to see our family, but if you want to really see your family more than just during Christmas down the road, maybe think about long-term health consequences of COVID,” said Johnson. “That’s how we can best show another person in our family that we love them — by giving them a call or giving them an IPad so they can FaceTime you or something. If you really want to show love to someone, I would suggest following CDC guidelines and maintaining that distance. The spread of this has been going on since March, and I know everyone is a little fatigued, but I would like to see some family members longer than just this holiday season.”
Following is the previously reported information pertaining to the 2021 city budget:
The general fund will have a total budget of $7,674,455 in 2021 which is more than the total general fund budget of $7,173,055 for this year.
Income tax levy fund (fund 101)
The total budget provided through income taxes for next year will be $2,050,700 which is slightly less than a total of $2,054,200 for 2020.
“2021 is the sixth year that Fund 101 will exercise a positive impact upon the budget of the City of Washington Court House. The taxpayer’s desire to create Fund 101 also resulted in the retirement of five property tax levies along with increased fiscal resources for fire, police, street, street lighting and cemetery. This in turn contributes to greater stability in the General Fund. Simply, Fund 101 permits the strengthening of core services and a reinforcement of the fiscal position of our community,” explained Denen.
Street construction, maintenance, repair, etc.
The budget for this category comes from motor vehicle licenses fees, state gas tax, workers comp. rebates, etc. for a total of $874,500 for next year — which is more than the total of $867,500 for this year.
The budget for state highway improvement projects is a total of $64,500 for next year which is slightly less than the total budget of $65,700 for 2020.
The cemetery budget is a total of $109,700 for next year which is less than the budget of $118,200 for this year.
The budget for the economic development fund comes from a portion of the city income tax. The total available for the budget for next year is $83,000 which is slightly less than $84,000 for this year.
Sewer and water
The budget for sewer is a total of $26,543,554 for next year compared to $30,537,054 for 2020.
The budget for water is a total of $3,048,198 for next year compared to $3,047,198 for this year.
The budget for bridge maintenance is $9,500 for 2021 which was the same for this year.
“The enormous investment in rehabilitating the Wastewater Treatment Plant commenced in 2019, that proceeded in 2020 is continued in 2021. Advancement of the Wastewater Treatment Plant project will satisfy the need of our community to protect human health and the environment. Further, investment in wastewater capacity and in particular wet weather flows limits entanglements with environmental enforcement agencies and supports industrial development,” explained Denen. “The repayment rate of funds loaned by the General Fund to the Water Fund to support aggressive investment in the water system is increased. Strength in the Water Fund permits the increased rate of repayment while supporting investment in the water system with an excellent cash balance in the Water Fund.”
Several miscellaneous funds not mentioned above were part of the proposal. The grand total of all funds for the 2021 city budget is $$44,233,414 compared to a grand total of $47,734,191 for 2020.
“Our current fiscal position, while not invulnerable, is several orders of magnitude better than the fiscal position of our community ten years ago and nearly unrecognizably better than the fiscal position of fifteen years or twenty-years past. This fortunate position has been achieved by the consistent support of the taxpayer, fiscal prudence, dedication to investing in staff and expenditure on plant and equipment. Fiscal stability is achieved over many years. Radical financial action rarely yields desired results. Like most matters of substance in life, no shortcuts or snake oil exists,” explained Denen.
Washington Court House City Council meetings are located in the second floor council chambers of the City Administration Building, 105 N. Main Street. The meetings are streamed on the YouTube channel “City of Washington Court House, Ohio” at www.youtube.com/channel/UCRwMxUBn8XIQTjnSvFaGDgA.
Reach journalist Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355.