LIMA — Hearings concerning the 2020 Lima city budget got underway Monday.
The budget rings in at $38,262,666. The city had a carry-over at the end of 2019 of $7.6 million. It’s anticipated the carry-over at the end of 2020 will be around $7 million.
Tuesday night, Lima council finance committee members heard from Lima Police Chief Kevin Martin, Lima Fire Chief Bruce Black and Public Works Director Howard Elstro about their requests.
Lima police have requested $11,349,515.
“Well, it is an increase from last year,” said Martin. “I think it’s a reasonable increase and, again, it’s what we’re looking at needing in order to be able to continue to provide high-quality police services to the community. Much of the increase is actually based upon negotiated wages and wage and benefit increases that have been achieved through the collective bargaining process.”
“This will allow us to staff a total of 83 sworn officers — now that’s just not patrol officers, that’s every rank — but a total of 83 sworn employees plus the full number of civilian employees that we were budgeted for in 2019 as well,” said Martin. “Ninety-two percent of our total budget is for staff, for wages and fringes and that might sound like a lot but we are in the type of business or the type of profession that it is people delivering service for people so we need police officers, we need the other staff to make sure that we can do our job.”
The fire department request is $9,490,046.
“In order to meet the budget request by the finance director, we had to reduce one and a half positions than we budgeted in 2019. We had to budget a 2% cut and our expense accounts,” said Black.
Luckily, no current firefighters will lose their jobs.
”We’re gonna eliminate through attrition. Since December 2018, we’ve had five employees retire and we’re expecting another possibly two to four employees, maybe five, they’re gonna retire the first half of this year,” said Black.
Howard Elstro, public works director, went over his overall budget which comes in at $24,815,989. The general fund part of that is around $9.4 million.
“We are people dependent to see our mission gets done,” said Elstro. “Between full time, seasonal employees and others we have about 125 individuals that help us with this mission. There are additional service providers we employ like engineers, contractors and a variety of others.”
Elstro urged council to look into replacing Schoonover Pool in the near future, citing the high cost to maintain the pool. Elstro estimated the cost to replace the pool would be around $3 million.
The possible privatization of the pool was also discussed by Elstro and council members.
Elstro also discussed the possibility of another park that might result in the upcoming redevelopment of the Lost Creek Golf Course, which is expected to annex into the City of Lima.
A third hearing on the general budget begins at 5:30 p.m. today in Lima council chambers.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.