The remaining $141,433 increase on the city side represents a 0.56 percent increase over the current budget, with most of the increases coming from community and social services like the library, veterans services and the Council on Aging, as well as in the Community and Economic Development office, which just added a new deputy director.
The budget also takes into account significant public safety savings made possible by the impending opening of the new regional dispatch center in Middleton. The city will save $544,059 on public safety communications, and Kezer said some costs like the expenses for prisoner watch and walk-in traffic will be absorbed into the police budget, resulting in a net savings of $238,125.
Including those absorbed expenses, the police department’s budget will increase by $354,528 while the fire budget will only increase by $28,357. The public safety communications savings are a part of a separate line item.
This year’s budget also marks a return to the normal fiscal payroll cycle after an anomalous 27th payroll fell within this past fiscal year. The extra payroll period forced the city to appropriate $400,000 in free cash to cover the extra expense, but that won’t be necessary again until 2020.
Over the next month, the City Council will meet with each of the city’s department heads to review their budgets. The first hearing will be held Monday night, when the councilors are scheduled to review the collector/treasurer, assessor, MIS, administration and finance, liability insurance, municipal buildings, Landry Stadium, central supply, outdoor lighting, sealer of weights, state and county assessments, reserve fund, employee benefits, debt service and other assessments’ budgets.
Then on Thursday, May 23, the councilors will review the Whittier Regional High School budget, schools, the mayor’s office and the legal services’ budgets. A week later, on May 30, they will look at the inspections, DPW, sewer, water, recycling/refuse removal and snow/ice budgets.