No-tax-increase budget goes to council tonight

City Council gets its first glimpse of the proposed $23.6 million budget for 2018 tonight, a spending plan that does not include a real estate tax increase, according to city officials.

Copies of Mayor Gabriel J. Campana’s proposed budget, which he worked on with William E. Nichols Jr., city finance director, and others in his administration, generally always are presented to council but are further reviewed over the Thanksgiving holiday, typically without commentary.

The proposed budget shows no lay-offs and retains existing services in the city, according to Campana.

Among the largest expenses, which are not a surprise, are those among the public safety departments, to include the police and fire budgets, Streets and Parks Department and codes.

However, Nichols indicated to the Sun-Gazette that while the salaries and pension requirements for these departments are among the costliest part of the proposed budget each year, the health care costs, overall, have decreased by a few percentage points over this year. That’s due to the continuation of the city enrolled in a cooperative with a health care management company, Benecon, he said.

Stephanie Young, director of the Department of Community Development, is expected to be present in case council has any questions as it takes a second and final reading on the community development budget, including block grants that pay for street reconstruction, building and housing needs.

Council does not typically comment on the proposed budget. It spends a few days over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend reviewing details and then returns next week for two budget work sessions in chambers.

Those are scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday and next Wednesday. The first reading of the proposed budget is scheduled at the meeting that begins 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7, with final adoption anticipated the following week before Christmas vacation.