Piqua City Commission discusses 2020 budget


By Sam Wildow - Miami Valley Sunday News



EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part one in a series on the city of Piqua’s 2020 budget, focusing on utility departments. Part two, which will cover the street funds, pool, police, and fire, will appear next week in the Miami Valley Today.

PIQUA — The Piqua City Commission received presentations from city department heads during a special meeting held Thursday evening to go over the city’s 2020 budget.

The city of Piqua’s budget is approximately $82.9 million, net of transfers.

Finance Director Cynthia Holtzapple explained the budget included $56.9 million in enterprise funds, which are funds like electric, water, wastewater, refuse, and so on that are self-supporting funds where outside users like the residents of Piqua are charged a fee for goods and services.

The budget also includes $5.9 million in street funds; $17.6 million in general areas like police fire, health, planning, administration, parks, and the Fort Piqua Plaza; $1.6 million in internal service funds, like healthcare, workers’ compensation, liability insurance, and more; and also approximately $900,000 in grants.

Holtzapple also broke down the budget by explaining that $20.3 million of it is for labor and benefits, $20.4 million is for operations and maintenance, $22.9 million is the cost of purchasing power for the Piqua Power System, $15.1 million will be spent on capital projects, and $4.2 million is debt.

In terms of staffing, there are approximately 195 annual full-time employees, including 82 for the utility departments, 40 for the Piqua Police Department, 35 for the Piqua Fire Department, 16 in administration, 16.5 in streets, and 5.5 in parks and golf.

In regard to enterprise funds, City Manager Gary Huff explained why the expenses sometimes exceed the revenue, saying those departments build up their fund balances years in advance to spend on capital projects. For the water fund, the 2020 revenue is estimated at $7.4 million and the expenses are estimated at $7.9 million. It had a fund balance of $5.9 million in 2019, and its estimated fund balance for 2020 is $5.4 million.

The break down of the water fund budget is $1.9 million for labor and benefits; $2.9 million for operations and maintenance; $400,000 for capital projects; and $2.7 million for the debt service. Upcoming capital projects include the pump replacement on Ziegler Road, a water main replacement, and the department’s cost share of replacing a service truck.

For the Wastewater Treatment Plant, it is finishing up its $40 million plant renovation, so for 2020, the revenue is estimated at being $7.1 million, loan proceeds include $5.7 million, and expenses are expected to be $11.1 million. It had a fund balance of $6.2 million in 2019, and its estimated fund balance for 2020 is $7.9 million. Of the upcoming capital purchases, approximately $5.7 million will be spent on finishing the plant’s construction. Other projects will be for a front end loader and the department’s 30 percent share of the service truck. The department will also spend $1.5 million on its debt service, $1.9 million on labor and benefits, and $1.8 million in operations and maintenance.

For the stormwater department, the 2020 revenue is estimated at $1.2 million and expenses are estimated at $1.6 million. It had a fund balance of $1.3 million in 2019, and its estimated fund balance for 2020 is $900,000. Upcoming capital purchases include a storm sewer repair on Vine Street with an estimated cost of $200,000; a flood control design for flooding on Manier Avenue with an estimated cost of $120,000; replacing the pump of the Shawnee pump station with an estimated cost of $65,000; and the department’s 10 percent share of the service truck with an estimated cost of $25,000.

The city’s largest fund is the electric fund, with a 2020 estimated revenue of $30.4 million, expenses estimated at $31.4 million, a 2019 fund balance of $4.6 million, and an estimated 2020 fund balance of $3.6 million. The biggest cost to the Piqua Power System is the cost of purchasing power, which is estimated at $22.9 million for 2020. Other costs include $2.4 million for labor and benefits, $4.3 million for operations and maintenance, and $1.8 million in capital projects. The capital projects include replacing 69 kV breakers and upgrading technology at substation #4; the South Street 13/4 kV stepdown conversion; a bucket truck, which was rolled over from 2019; and a SCADA system upgrade.

Director Ed Krieger of the Piqua Power System explained the city purchases power through a variety of resources, including from Prairie State, a clean coal plant, and Fremont, a natural gas center, each through the city’s membership in American Municipal Power. Piqua also utilizes power from hydro plants and, most recently, the solar fields located in Piqua.

“We wanted a portion of our portfolio to be carbon-free,” Krieger said.

The city not only purchases power, but the Power System also has two gas combustion turbines the city uses to shave peak volumes, reducing Piqua’s overall electric demand during periods of high system load.

At the sanitation department, its 2020 budget estimates include $2.1 million in revenue, $1.7 million loan proceeds, $2.2 million expenses, and a $1.7 million capital project. Its fund balance for 2019 was $1.7 million, and its estimated fund balance for 2020 is $1.6 million. The capital project is the construction of a sanitation building, which Director Amy Welker of the Health and Sanitation Department said they have been working on for 12 years.

“Our current location really does not suit the department well,” Welker said. The department’s current building lacks a shower or locker room facilities. The building also lacks the proper storage space for approximately $775,000-worth of equipment that currently sits outside.

Huff explained the city looked at different options, including constructing a building at a location on Robert M Davis Parkway, which was deemed too expensive at an estimated cost of $3.4 million. The city will now be demolishing and constructing a new building at its current location at an estimated cost of $1.7 million.

By Sam Wildow

Miami Valley Sunday News

Reach Sam Wildow at swildow@aimmediamidwest.com. ©2019 Miami Valley Sunday News, all rights reserved.

Reach Sam Wildow at swildow@aimmediamidwest.com. ©2019 Miami Valley Sunday News, all rights reserved.