Middletown plans slight increase in public safety budget

Middletown’s public safety departments will see a slight funding increase in 2019 if the proposed budget is approved next month.

Finance Director Jake Burton said the 2019 public safety budget is about $22.42 million for 2019, about a 0.6 percent increase over the 2018 budget of $22.28 million.

Broken down by divisions, the Division of Police is budgeted for more than $12.5 million, or a 3.3 percent increase over the nearly $12.2 million budgeted for 2018. The Division of Fire will be budgeted for more than $9.8 million, or a 2.6 decrease from its 2018 budget of more than $10.1 million.

In 2019 budget, police administration will see a 63.4 percent increase as four housing specialists/code enforcement personnel and their salaries, about $335,000, were moved from the Community Revitalization department as the city consolidates nuisance and code enforcement to the Division of Police. In addition, the police administration budget also includes an animal control officer and a new administrative assistant.

Other changes in the police budget includes: a 3.6 percent decrease to $1.3 million for criminal investigation; a 3.6 percent increase to $882,599 for narcotics enforcement; a 4.9 percent increase to $326,642 for police services; a 10.3 percent increase to $1.35 million for police and fire dispatch with the hiring of a new dispatcher; and a 2.2 percent increase to $1.27 million for city jail management. Uniform patrol also had a modest decrease of 0.3 percent to $6.46 million for 2019.

In addition to consolidating nuisance activities with the police administration, other police goals for 2019 include reduction of Part 1 Crimes and calls for service; continuing the use of task force strategies to address crime hot-spots; and improving the use of the Address Management System to better neighborhood policing.

MORE: Middletown increasing public safety budget in 2018

The Division of Fire budget for 2019 covers the costs of its 12 current SAFER grant firefighters.

Burton said the city has applied for a new SAFER grant to cover the costs of these 12 firefighters as well as for an Assistance to Firefighters Grant for new breathing gear for firefighters. He said the SAFER grant application period begins on Dec. 17 and that awards will not be announced until March 1, 2019.

In the 2019 Division of Fire budget, fire administration saw a 4.7 percent increase to $431,343; fire operations will have a 3.4 percent decrease to $8.79 million; and fire prevention and training will see a 4.6 percent increase to $633,136.

This year, the division will continue the implementation of the recommendations listed in the 2017 Strategic Planning Study; review the implementation of results of the 2018 Deployment and Staffing Analysis conducted by the Ohio Fire Chiefs Association; reduce fire and EMS calls for service by 15 percent by Dec. 31, 2019; prepare and train all city departments and divisions on the city’s community disaster play as well as reducing opioid overdose incidents by 10 percent by Dec. 31, 2019; develop a fire administration succession plan to prepare for future leadership; and identify and apply for capital grants for the purchase and replacement of older equipment.

Burton said overall, the total 2019 budget, including the public safety and non-public safety departments will be nearly $31.6 million, which is slightly less than the nearly $31.71 million budgeted for 2018. He also told council that the city expects to have a 21.1 percent general fund carryover or $6.56 million at the end of 2018; and is forecasting a budgeted general fund balance of more than $4.77 million or 15.5 percent at the end of 2019.

This was the second of two budget presentations this month, and council is expected to give final approval at its Nov. 20 meeting so that the budget can take effect on Jan. 1, 2019.

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