Mayor Gary Starr presented Middleburg Heights City Council with a balanced budget during council’s Dec. 13 meeting. Council members unanimously approved the 2017 budget ordinance.
The two-part budget document contains the general fund, which includes all departments’ operations and salaries, and the capital fund that supports major purchases requested by the departments, he said.
“The highlight of the budget is the balanced budget, a year-end cash reserve for the end of 2017 of approximately 15 to 20 percent, which is on par to what we’ve established as a general rule,” Starr explained to council. “It helps us enormously, especially when you go for credit ratings.”
He said the $36.5 million budget contains “no tax increases, no layoffs, no furloughs and no fee increases (for rubbish collection, etc.).” Starr predicts the city’s income tax receipts for 2017 will equal the estimated 3 percent increase experienced in 2016. The city expects nearly $20 million in income tax receipts from all sources.
He also said non-wage expenditures in 2016 were down approximately 5.7 percent. Property taxes of approximately $2 million are projected to remain flat for 2017. Starr indicated the current staffing level of 141 full-time employees will be maintained. The budget does not include, however, any cost of living wage increases. Those will be added after labor contracts are negotiated, he said.
Medical insurance program costs are budgeted for $3.4 million to cover claims and administrative fees. Medical Mutual, the document notes, has forecasted claims cost increases of approximately 10 percent.
As most other municipalities have done, Middleburg Heights has had to use reserves to provide services and re-investment opportunities for infrastructure, equipment and buildings. That action was necessitated by cuts in state funding. Projected budget carryover for Dec. 31 of next year is $5.4 million, down from $7 million anticipated for 2016.
“We have made significant headway in adjusting our operations to overcome this latest challenge,” Starr said in his Nov. 23 budget overview letter to council. “We submit this budget anticipating good things for the city of Middleburg Heights in 2017.”
Just prior to council’s vote, he summarized the city’s financial objectives.
“Our goals continue to be to control our city costs, increase our revenue through business retention and expansion, and to maintain our current high-quality levels of services for 2017,” Starr said.