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City's Proposed Budget is 18.3% Higher Than Last Year's

Daniel Prince

No tax increases or utility increases planned

WBCU News covered the Union City Council budget hearings on March 29-30. There is still a lot to report on from the outside agency requests to city department requests. The bottom line after the workshops is that the overall budget of the city is looking at an 18.3% increase. This encompasses all of its funds, including the general fund, hospitality and accommodations, Main Street Junction, solid waste management, economic development fund, City of Union drug fund, Community Change fund, tax increment district for debt service, and the combined utility fund. The biggest increase by far is in the combined utility fund, whose budget increased by more than $7.2 million over last year, a 21.84% increase. Nearly all of the increase is due to the rising costs of buying electricity and natural gas. Main Street Junction’s budget is projected to nearly double, from just over $70,000 this year to a little over $136,000 next year. This is due to a decision to hire a full-time director for Main Street Junction. The director would also have administrative functions at City Hall helping Gloria Rogers. Currently, Debbie Woodard is over Main Street Junction and serves as management services secretary. She has indicated she will retire in October, and the council voted to hire a salaried director who would also fulfill those administrative duties that Woodard currently handles. By creating the salaried position, it will take out overtime costs that the city currently has in dealing with Main Street Junction. The economic development fund also has a 62% increase, to $162,000. Money paid by Timken for its lease of the former spec building on LSP Road goes into that fund. This year was the first year that money from the lease has gone there, as it previously went to repaying the utility fund. Lease revenues will cover the increase. The general fund provides the operational budget for the city, and it has a proposed increase of nearly $309,000, to $7,013,540 in the coming year, a 4.6% increase. Projected revenues are $6,259,710, leaving a projected deficit of a little over $750,000. No tax increases or utility increases were proposed, so not spending the full amount of the budget is the major way the deficit will be closed. Any amount spent over the amount of revenue the city takes in will be made up with the fund balance, which would deplete it by more than 14%.

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