Mayor's 2017-18 Budget Message
Enclosed you will find my proposed budget for 2016-17. As always, I am grateful for the efforts of city staff in helping me to address the needs of our growing city with the limited resources we have to work with. I am very happy to report that this is probably the least challenging or problematic budget I've been involved in during my time as an elected official. This is largely attributed to the improving economy of the past few years, as well as sound financial planning of past Councils and staff.
My enthusiasm for this year's budget can be credited to several factors. Primarily, we are able to achieve our short term goals, as well as make some long term investments in our future, while keeping the current property tax rate the same as last year. I'd like to address a few of the high points pertaining to our short and long term spending. For the second year in a row, we are able to invest one million dollars in our road fund. I consider this a major achievement in an area that we've not been able to sufficiently address in the past and am happy we are able to sustain the investment. Another noteworthy item is the institution of a 401(a) retirement savings program for our employees, with a City match up to 3%. As you are aware, the City of Independence has never participated in the federal social security program. Significant cutbacks in the state retirement system have considerably diminished an employee's ability to save for retirement. Rather than enter into the social security system, with its much higher employer and employee contribution requirement, and questionable future, I believe it is prudent to implement the 401(a) program. Not only is this the right thing to do for the city staff that we rely so heavily on, it is a powerful retention tool. This is particularly important to an organization in which the vast majority of employees are law enforcement professionals. The supply of qualified individuals is ever diminishing, creating a very tight job market throughout the region and state. We need to continue to strive to make the City of Independence one of the best places to work to insure we continue to have top notch staff to serve and protect our citizens. Also in the arena of public safety, I am happy to report that this budget allows us to set aside the remaining funds necessary to meet the estimated cost to replace our radios when Kenton County Emergency Dispatch makes the much needed switch to a digital radio system in 2018. I previously had not anticipated reaching this $300,000 funding goal until next year. While all of the previously cited items represent investments in our future, there are several items which very specifically anticipate long term needs. This budget also provides for capital funds which set aside money to replace the Senior Center roof in the coming years, continue to self-fund our vehicle fleet, as opposed to borrowing outside, and build a reserve fund for our new self-insured health insurance program, which not only saves taxpayer dollars on premiums, but provides a better level of service to our employees and their families.
In closing, I believe the positivity of this budget message is indicative of the larger state of the city, which I consider to be on a solid upward trajectory. The first couple of years of my administration were heavily focused on many internal factors including human resources and infrastructure. We've filled key positions left open through retirement, accomplished a major overhaul of our personnel policy, completed some significant special roads projects and set a course towards greater infrastructure sustainability. As we continue to see an increase in new construction and new businesses open in the city, I look forward to directing even more energies toward accommodating that growth. Foremost is through economic development initiatives to attract new business and shift our revenue base. We will be rolling out a new website with demographic resources that will encourage new business. We continue to work with other community leaders to look at short and long range plans toward attracting industry. We will also continue our efforts toward responsible growth planning that seeks to maintain the quality of life in Independence that we've all come to love. Together, we will continue to make Independence one of the best places to live, work and play
Mayor Christopher J. Reinersman