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Fire, EMS staffing talk looms

City budget work will need to figure out funding.

The time is drawing near when Tipp City leaders will need to discuss in-depth establishing full-time fire and Emergency Medical Services in the community.

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John Green, city finance director, brought up the topic during the annual city budget work session of Tipp City council in late October.

Those discussions in the next few years would need to include how the city would obtain more funding to pay for personnel and other costs. Among options that would need to be explored would be a tax increase or some form of fire/EMS district, Green said.

The city’s budget today “cannot sustain a full-time fire and EMS” operation, he said.

Public safety (police, fire and EMS) make up close to 55 percent of general fund spending today, with the bulk of that cost for the police department.

The city general fund for 2018 is projected to have $6.7 million in income and $7.4 million in spending. The spending column includes $500,000 the council has set aside in recent years for economic development should an opportunity to assist a development project arise.

Without that money, the projected spending deficit is $132,825 next year. Green said that amount would be covered, as past deficit projections have been, if the city spends 97 percent of the amount projected versus 100 percent in 2018.

Mayor Pat Hale, who is leaving council at year’s end, told fellow councilmembers he was concerned about general fund reserves and comments about spending down the reserves that now far exceed the locally set goal of 50 percent of annual spending.

“The idea … we will draw it down … because we are above the 50 percent target is just not smart in my view,” he said. Councilmember Carrie Arblaster said having reserves is important but the city also cannot sit on too much cash.

The council will be asked to approve the operating budget in December. It approved the capital improvements budget Nov. 6.

Major projects in that program for 2018 include a new water tower to replace the 1930’s era Bowman Avenue tower for around $2.5 million and a second interconnect of the city electric system to Dayton Power and Light electric for around $3.5 million.

The water tower project includes demolition of the old tower.

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