Independence Faces "Challenging" Budget, Will Place Officers at Schools
Independence city council took a look at its 2018-19 budget, one that Mayor Chris Reinersman called "particularly challenging" in the wake of increased pension costs and the placing of police officers at all schools for safety reasons.
Reinersman said that with the state deciding to phase in the increases, Independence will only see a 12 percent increase to its pension contributions this year, with that number steadily increasing over the next 8-10 years.
However, Reinersman was pleased to inform residents that this will not impact the city property taxes.
The additional $80,000 for the state pension will instead be supplemented by the city only purchasing four new police cruisers instead of five from the general fund. The fifth police cruiser will be purchased by the police department's drug seizure fund, keeping the department up to date with its vehicle rotation policy.
The city is also raising its franchise fee to help generate the additional funds by four-tenths of a percent, meaning an electric bill that currently costs $150 a month will go up by 60 cents.
With school safety being a major issue across the country, the city will also face a $40,000 salary increase to help place officers in all four schools located in the city, with the Kenton County Board of Education absorbing the majority of the cost.
As the city works to complete the road improvements projects, it will be adding another public services employee, bringing the department total to eight, which will allow the city to have two crews working on road improvements at the same time. The road fund will also receive $1 million for the fourth year in a row.
Council members also voted to renew the city’s contract with Rumpke for a 76-cent increase per house through 2020, bringing individual bills to just over $13. Surrounding cities are currently anywhere from $1-$7 more than that, according to City Administrator Chris Moriconi.
The contract with Rumpke was originally signed in 2012, with three options for extension. Independence will be able to extend the contract one more time in 2020 for an additional two years, before having to bid the contract out again.
Reinersman also announced that Independence will recognize May 8 as Parker Willman Day.
Willman is the creator of Parker’s Pet Project, a program he created when he was just 6-years old. The purpose of the program is to collect treats, blankets and toys for animal shelters in the region by organizing collections days at various animal shelters.