Middletown budget includes no layoffs for 2021: What to know about its finances

Budget management and assistance from coronavirus relief funds mean Middletown will not have layoffs or other position eliminations in 2021 with a non-public safety budget 4.4% less than this year.

City Manager Jim Palenick presented his first non-public safety budget to Middletown City Council Tuesday as the latest in efforts by local governments to manage spending and monitor revenues because of impacts of the coronavirus.

“The CARES Act has been our salvation,” Palenick said of the federal relief funds.

Palenick said budget cuts and more than $3.3 million CARES Act funds as part of the coronavirus relief funding put the city in a better financial position.

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The overall 2021 budget for the non-public safety departments and service is just more than $9.21 million, which is 4.4% less than the $9.64 million in the 2020 budget.

He said the city is anticipating just more than $6.9 million carryover at the end of 2020.

Those departments include the city council, city manager which includes communications, finance, information systems, economic development, planning, administrative services, public works and utilities, and other departments such as health and the municipal court.

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Significant changes in the 2021 non-public safety budget include:

  • A 1% cost of living increase for all non-union employees and the fire union employees (subject to collective bargaining). Other increases will be made as negotiated to other employees per their contracts.
  • No increase in city’s share of health insurance, which is typically 6%.
  • City income tax revenue in 2021 projected to decrease 3% from 2020.
  • Adding two dedicated community oriented police officers through COPS grant funding.
  • Adding a per-transaction fee to be charged on all credit card transactions starting Jan. 1. This will save the city about $250,000 a year.
  • No water rate increase in 2021.
  • A planned 5% sewer rate increase.
  • A $1 increase per month for solid waste collection from $15.50 to $16.50.
  • An increase of 75 cents per month to cover increased curb work related to paving. This will go from $4 to $4.75 a month.
  • Completing an upgrade of the city’s 20-year-old telephone system and upgrade network infrastructure to install a city-wide high-speed wireless network to link locations.
  • Opting not to move the Economic Development Department to the Goetz Building and subleasing the space. The move saves about $55,000 in the purchase of office and other equipment.
  • Contracting fueling and other services at Middletown Regional Airport.
  • Adding a human resources manager position.
  • Setting aside $3.95 million for paving in 2021. Funding would come from various sources.

City officials will present the 2021 public safety budget to council at its Oct. 20 meeting. Council will consider approval of the proposed 2021 city budget (public safety and non-public safety departments) in November.

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