Hamilton sets its spending plan. What does that mean for 2018?

Hamilton is starting 2018 with a spending plan of $287.04 million, of which $47.2 million is in the city’s general fund, which provides money for most city operations, such as police, fire operations and most city employees.

The great bulk of the remainder is for the city’s utility operations, including natural gas, electric, water, sewage and storm water.

In compiling the 2018 budget, City Manager Joshua Smith told the city council that administrators made financial forecasts of needs over the next three years. Among those needs, he said, “we know in the coming years we will need substantial monies to replace and/or improve fire engines, fire houses, key intersections, parks, etc. We are planning today” for the best way to fund those needs.

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In creating the budget, city officials have noted that city staffing levels will be lower in 2018 than they were in 2008, at the start of the Great Recession, even when including services that have been out-sourced to other entities.

In 2008, Hamilton had the equivalent of about 750 full-time employees. In the 2017 spending plan, Hamilton had 685.5, Smith noted in a letter to council. The proposed 2018 budget accounts for the equivalent of 687.75 full-timers. Among the new posts are the Infrastructure Department’s field service specialist and “environmental health & safety manager,” which Smith said will focus on employee safety and employee succession planning.

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Here are some of the projects on which the city plans to spend in 2018:

Main Street improvements: $2.8 million. Overhead utility wires will go underground between B Street and Eaton Avenue, the Main Street water main will be replaced, and new sidewalk "bump-outs" will be installed in some locations to widen sidewalks and allow outdoor dining in those areas. Also, brighter streetlights that will better illuminate sidewalks will be added.

More streetscapes, $2.25 million. More attractive sidewalks will be added along Dayton Street between Marcum Park and The Marcum, an apartment and retail project now going up downtown across from the Courtyard by Marriott and the newly developed Marcum Park.

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