TALLMADGE – New police cruisers and a fire truck are in the future for the city safety forces.

Council has given its approval to the budget for 2020. Citizens voted to give the city an additional 0.25 percent in income tax Nov. 5, increasing the income tax from 2 percent to 2.25 percent for the purpose of funding fire/EMS and police protection and related safety services. It is estimated to raise an additional $1.2 million annually for the needs of the safety forces.

Because it will take three years for the city to see the full effect of the tax increase, the 2020 budget did not include the expected additional revenue from the tax increase.

"We will evaluate the budget as the year goes on and things come up," Mayor David Kline said.

The first purchase for the safety forces could be a ladder truck, but council would have to approve the expense. It takes a year for a ladder truck to be built, and Kline said he would like the authority to enter into a contract to start building one. That would make payment due in 2021, and the city would look at a 10-year note for financing it.

The general fund for 2020 will see a decrease by $716,788 from a beginning balance of $5.9 million to $5.2 million at the end of the year. The general fund is required to maintain a $3.29 million minimum which is its "rainy day fund." The general fund has been higher in 2013, 2016 and 2017 but lower in other years. Income tax revenue has increased nearly every year but 2018.

The overall ending budget for 2020 is $11.3 million, $2.2 million lower than the beginning total of $13.5 million.

Kline said they’re transferring $1.66 million from the general fund into the fire fund now to maintain its $183,572 minimum. The $1.2 million increase from new tax money will change that.

In addition to a new fire truck, Kline said he is committed to building a new fire station.

In 2019 the city began using a Fleet Management Program for purchasing and trading-in vehicles to lower the average age of the fleet, reduce operating costs and maintain a consistent, manageable fleet budget.

Instead of denying requests for new vehicles until they fall apart or going into debt to replace multiple vehicles, the program puts purchases on a schedule, Kline said.

In the past the city ran vehicles into the ground but the Fleet Management program implements a system to maximize trade-ins and keep maintenance low on vehicles, said Mollie Gilbride, director of finance. 

Safety capital projects for 2020 include four police cruisers for $75,000; fire station #1 repairs for $96,500; and a Fire First Responders Tahoe for $10,000.

Other capital projects include Pour in Place at Maca Playground for $145,000 to replace pea gravel that no longer meets ADA standards; Interstate 76 improvements for $100,000; asphalt paving program for $500,000; and engineering for a waterline on Southwest Avenue where breaks are frequent and water floods local businesses.

Additional expenses in 2020 include the site plan for the Howe Road Park for $34,000 and replacing lockers in the men’s room at the Recreation Center for $17,000, Kline said.

The JEDD revenue is estimated at $890,000 for the city of Tallmadge in 2020 and the rate of 1.5 percent is the same as 2019.

The city will review the impact of the 0.25 percent income tax increase on the budget in the first and second quarter of 2020 as well as major capital needs. Kline said they city will increase its focus on economic development.

Gannett reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at 330-541-9434 or lfreeman@recordpub.com