GALLIPOLIS — Gallipolis City Commission held a public reading of its 2019 budget, Tuesday evening, where officials said they felt the budget was in a better place than it had been in previous years but there were still concerns with an aging infrastructure and rising opioid crime.
According to City Clerk and Auditor Annette Landers, the municipality plans to appropriate around $8,964,000 for the operation of Gallipolis for 2019. This includes general fund expenditures, salaries and benefits for employees, operating costs of water and sewer treatments and road maintenance, among other expenses. Around $3,957,000 of that total includes salary and benefit expenditures, $1,180,000 in capital purchases and $802,400 in debt service. These three items make up around 66 percent of Gallipolis’ proposed expenditures.
“Department requests that were turned in this year were lower than they were last year,” said Landers. “We saw a decrease of $148,000 in the general fund in overall requests for (budgeting time) this year as opposed to last year. That made it a lot easier to do the budgets this year and why we didn’t have to do a bunch of budget hearings carving great big hunks out of the budget. It was good to see.”
Reportedly, the city also had less in capital items to purchase for 2019 due to the previous implementation of a program attempting to make certain city departments were appropriately outfitted with working trucks, tools and other such maintenance needs.
This year’s general fund revenue is anticipated to be around $3,039,000. Last year, around $3,220,000 was collected. In 2017, around $3,097,000 was collected. In 2016, around $3,139,000 was gathered. The year 2015 saw $3,285,000 and 2014 saw $3,477,000. General funds anticipated to be spent in 2019 total around $2,966,000. General funds spent in 2018 were around $3,032,000; in 2017, $2,739,000; in 2016, $2,928,000; in 2015, $3,162,000; and in 2014, $3,202,000.
The largest item the city has budgeted for will be police services, numbering around $1,110,000. The previous year’s expenses totaled around $1,116,000.
City water treatment and sewer services are considered separate enterprise funds from the general fund. Budget records show Gallipolis plans to spend around $1,562,000 for water treatment and $1,773,000 on sewer treatment for 2019.
“We had around eight or nine large projects last year and most of those are pretty well wrapped up and that’s why this year we think the budget is going to look a little bit better,” said Gallipolis City Manager Gene Greene. “We still have the Spruce Street Bridge, which I’d like to raise and we’re working on that right now…We’re looking at probably well over a couple hundred thousand dollars to do that project right there.”
City officials have discussed raising the bridge over the course of the last year, due to concerns with flooding.
The city is also looking to finish its culvert replacement on Airport Road in an attempt to address flooding issues on Upper River Road. Gallipolis has also recently acquired the wells of the Gallipolis Developmental Center as part of an ongoing project to connect the facility with city water services.
“We’ve applied for (state) grants for paving (city roads),” said Greene. “It could be well over $200,000, if we get that. But we won’t know anything until some time in April. There will be a match and we’ll go out for another grant to pay our (part of the) match. I’d say there’s a good chance of getting that, but no paving would be done until fall.”
Overall, officials said they felt the budget was better than previous years but continue to echo concerns with predicted rises in costs of fighting crime and costs in replacing an aged infrastructure.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.