Extra pay period due to leap year spurs increase in Fairfield’s budget

Though the spring will be when Fairfield will discuss its 2024 capital projects — including big project spending — the operations are expected to increase nominally.

Fairfield City Council is expected to vote on its 2024 operating budget at its Dec. 4 meeting, in which its all-funds budget expenditures are expected to be just more than $92 million, a $4.7 million increase over 2023′s original budget. Finance Director Chris Hacker said it’s only that large of an annual increase because of a payroll anomaly.

The city will pay nearly $1.5 million more in payroll in 2024 because there will be 27 pay periods instead of the normal 26, which is because of the calendar, and specifically the aggregation of leap years.

The majority of Fairfield’s revenues, approaching $106 million for 2024, comes from income taxes. The lion’s share, about 70%, is from withholdings from Fairfield businesses. The city’s income tax revenues have seen “very consistent growth” over the years ― a 4% increase from 2008 to 2022. Over the past five full years (2018 to 2022), the income tax revenue increased by nearly 7%.

The year 2024 will continue that trend as projections will see income tax revenues estimated to be just more than 3% next year over the forecast of the remainder of 2023.

“Historically, we’ve budgeted very conservatively on the revenue side, and we want to continue to do so ... so we don’t put ourselves in a bad situation,” said Hacker.

The operational side of Fairfield will see some growth in personnel, but less than a handful of full-time positions will be filled or created.

The city’s revenue is conservatively projected to increase by 2.42% over 2023, coming in at just under $106 million.

Hacker said there are a few things that impact a city’s annual budget, one of them being the economy. As income tax withholding is the primary revenue source of our general fund, he said there have been some changes in recent years that have impacted withholdings, such as many businesses implementing work-from-home structures.

While, as Hacker describes, the business environment is “uncertain” on a national stage, he said in Fairfield, “We’ve been very stable and positive.”

In recent years, there have been several speculative building projects constructed, and filled with new businesses, and three of the five Wawa gas stations projected to come to Butler County will be in Fairfield.

“I think we got a nice story to tell here recently with some of the things happening here,” Hacker said.

Fairfield had several members of the administration present departmental budgets at its Monday council-manager briefing, which will continue the next two briefings in November.

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