Hamilton in 2018 plans to spend more than a quarter of a billion dollars, but that’s well below the amount that was spent last year.
The city next year, under a spending plan discussed Wednesday by City Manager Joshua Smith, expects to spend $287,037,235, if the proposed budget is approved Dec. 20. The first of two readings of the legislation creating the budget will occur at Hamilton City Council’s Dec. 13 meeting.
Hamilton’s budget is oversized for a city of its size for one main reason: The city owns and operates its own utilities — electric, natural gas, water, sewage-conveying pipes and processing operations, and storm sewers. The city’s “enterprise funds,” which include those utilities, next year will account for $190.9 million of the city’s total $287 million budget, or 66.5 percent.
The city’s total budget was much larger — $407.4 million — in 2016, but that was largely because of revenues the city reaped from the sale to American Municipal Power for $139 million of 48.6 percent of the Greenup Hydroelectric Power Plant on the Ohio River.
By contrast, Hamilton’s general fund, which pays for most general government operations, such as police, fire services and most city government operations, will be $47.2 million, or 16.4 percent.
One thing the city plans to spend aggressively on during 2018 is infrastructure, primarily to keep the city’s utilities in good working order into the future, Smith said.
“If you go back to what we spent in infrastructure 10 years ago versus what we spend today, we are much more aggressive on the infrastructure side,” Smith said.
Here are the $29.5 million the city is poised to spend next year, under the capital-spending suggestions:
- Water distribution, including hydrants, valves, meters and mains — $7.4 million
- Electric, transmission and distribution upgrades — $3.7 million
- Main Street renovation — $2.8 million
- Main/Millville/Eaton intersection — $2.6 million
- Gas transmission and distribution system upgrades — $2.3 million
- Annual concrete street repair and resurfacing — $1.9 million
- Beltline trail (property acquisition and phase one of construction — $1.75 million
- Sewage-system collection upgrades — $1.7 million
- Spooky Nook Sports at Champion Mill site work — $1.3 million
- Sewage-system production work — $685,000
- City share of reliability improvements at the Greenup plant — $650,000
- South Hamilton Crossing spending — $544,000
Council Member Tim Naab, who leads council’s finance-committee meetings, said he was pleased with the city administration’s budget efforts and also the development advances that are happening in the city.
“We’re looking toward the first two quarters of 2018 for new restaurants, new businesses, new small businesses, larger businesses, like we have going on next door at the former 5/3 Bank building,” Naab said. “Those things are all on purpose. They don’t just happen, and something falls out of the sky and lands in Hamilton, Ohio. It’s taking months, and sometimes years for all these wonderful things to happen on purpose in Hamilton.”
“We’ve had other cities come to us and say, ‘What are you guys doing right?’ So we’re now, if you will, the poster child for other cities in Indiana, in Kentucky, in Ohio, to come to us, and say, ‘What’s going on?’”