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- Legislative expenditures cover costs associated with City Council. This includes City Council members’ salaries and benefits, the Clerk of Council’s costs, and dues or memberships in organizations like the Ohio Municipal League and the Center for Local Government. Having a seven-member City Council and City Clerk is a requirement of the City’s Charter. Resident–elected Council members control the City’s budget, hire City officials, make and amend laws, and set policy for Loveland.
- Legal Services refers to the costs associated with maintaining a City Solicitor, a position required by the City’s Charter. This position is held by Frank Klaine, an attorney with Strauss and Troy. The Legal Services expenditures do not pay his salary, but are instead the charges we pay to Strauss and Troy. These charges generally cover access to a number of attorneys within this firm who have specialties in addition to those of Mr. Klaine. This annual expenditure provides legal services such as writing laws, reviewing contracts, offering personnel advice, attending and advising at City Council meetings, and representing the City for some litigation. More complicated cases like the City’s MSD lawsuit are not paid for from this section of the Loveland’s budget.
- The City Manager’s Office performs a variety of jobs. The City Manager position is required by Charter, and is responsible for the day-to-day workings of the City. To assist with this charge, the City Manager’s Office includes the Executive Assistant to the City Manager, a Management Analyst, and a part-time Human Resources Manager.
- Operations, another catchall accounting category, includes a variety of general expenditures. Some of these costs are fixed, meaning they cannot be cut easily or without serious consequences. For example, Loveland cannot discontinue insurance coverage, nor can we simply cut mandated legal publishing requirements. Loveland has to pay its debt or risk a credit rating reduction and litigation. Other expenses in the Operations section are more flexible, providing opportunities for cuts and perhaps even elimination. These important but not required services include promoting employee wellness and organizational development. Cutting or reducing these programs may prove necessary, but not without consequences. These consequences need to be taken into serious consideration when determining whether or not to alter the funding for these programs. A majority of these expenditures were cut in the 2012 Budget and CIP.
- The Finance Office consists of the Charter-required Finance Director position as well as two part-time Finance Clerks, an Accounts Payable Clerk, and a Financial Analyst. (The Utility Billing Clerk position also falls under the Finance Office and works at City Hall, but this position’s costs are not in the General Fund and are therefore not included in this analysis).
- The Building & Zoning Office ensures that buildings are built and maintained safely, an important yet lower visibility function of city government. Core functions include building plan reviews, building inspections, zoning compliance enforcement, land use planning, property maintenance enforcement, and issuance of various permits. Loveland, like other cities, charges for many of these services in order to offset at least part of the cost to provide them. In 2011, this office was reorganized and its costs were cut by 12% after 2012. These savings could grow even larger depending on building activity in the community. Not only does this office generates revenues to partially offset its costs, it has already been reorganized to save money.
- Engineering. Twenty percent of the costs for the City Engineer position are paid for from the General Fund. The balance of this position’s costs are paid for by the Water, Stormwater, Sanitation and Street Maintenance funds due to the City Engineer’s diverse assignments across many civil engineering disciplines.
- The Road Rehabilitation Program is the smallest independent wedge of General Fund expenditures. The Road Rehabilitation Program is not exclusively financed by the General Fund. General Fund dollars combine with gas tax and motor vehicle registration receipts to finance the total annual Road Rehabilitation Program. The General Fund contribution to the Road Rehabilitation Program has been declining over the past few years and that Gas Tax and MVR funds have been relatively flat. In an ideal world, gas taxes and motor vehicle registrations would fully fund a city’s road maintenance program. Because it is not a perfect world, it is quite common in Ohio for cities either to supplement from their General Fund or underfund road maintenance. In 2013, it is projected that the Road Rehabilitation Program will receive $297,215 from gas tax, motor vehicle registrations, and the General Fund. The City Engineer recommends that our road program should receive no less than $500,000 per year from all sources to avoid compounding roadway decline.
The Police Department and Mayor’s Court are projected to account for approximately 45% of the General Fund expenditures in 2013.
The Loveland Police Department patrols our community 24 hours a day, 365 days per year with officers working 10 hour shifts. There are at least two officers on duty for day shift and two to three officers on second shift. There is a split shift that starts at 5:00 p.m. to supplement second and third shift during peak service times. According to the Department of Justice, a city Loveland’s size has 24 police officers on average, while Loveland currently has 16 full-time sworn officers.
The largest portion of Police Department expenditures are personnel costs. Loveland Police Department provides services beyond basic, community patrol. One officer is assigned full-time as a detective, allowing him to focus exclusively on investigating criminal activities. For example, having this position enabled the capture of a bank robber within 24 hours of the crime. Loveland also has one officer dedicated to working proactively in and with Loveland Schools to stem juvenile crime. Two other sworn police officer positions—the Police Chief and Police Captain—work regular business hours unless otherwise needed and manage the day-to-day operations of the department. They are augmented by two civilian administrative professionals who oversee the Mayor’s Court and maintain crime databases supporting front-line police work.
Loveland is rather unique in having a part-time supplement to its full-time police force. Loveland is able to provide a higher and more economical level of safety service by using part-time officers effectively. The Police Department budgets for 6,000 hours of part-time labor per year. This is the equivalent of three full-time Patrol Officers but is two-thirds of the cost. The part-time police officer program enables Loveland to provide the same service levels at a reduced cost.
When benchmarked against cities of similar size, Loveland spends less per capita on law enforcement. Despite this, the Loveland community is overall very safe, and our crime rates are relatively low.
Loveland’s low crime rates are not solely attributed to the LPD; socio-economic status and other community factors play a role in Loveland’s safe environment. Even though we live in a safe community, the data illustrates that the LPD deals with more crime than most residents might be aware of.
Like Building & Zoning in the City Hall category of the General Fund, Mayor’s Court also has traditionally recovered substantial portions of its costs. The costs associated with Mayor’s Court include the Magistrate, Public Defender, Prosecutor, Clerk, and office supplies and computing. The Mayor’s Court hears local misdemeanor cases such as speeding, disorderly conduct, property maintenance violations, traffic violations, and the like. Mayor’s Court receives fees and fines for convictions of these violations. Mayor’s Court expenditures are largely or completely offset by revenues generated through these fees and fines.
Mayor’s Court’s cost recovery ratio is now positive. Generally, revenues generated from the operation of Mayor’s Court roughly match expenditures, causing Mayor’s Court to “pay for itself.” Recognizing a negative cost recovery ratio a few years ago, Council voted to increase fees and fines in order to ensure that revenue equals or exceeds costs. Starting in 2010, Mayor’s Court generated a slight surplus of revenues over expenditures. This has been the case in every year since. Therefore, discontinuing Mayor’s Court as a service to residents would not help Loveland fill the gap and could instead deepen Loveland’s budget deficit.
Parks & Leisure expenditures account for roughly 9% of General Fund expenditures. The cost of Parks & Leisure is broken into two components: operations and capital. Operations consists largely of personnel costs for activities such as mowing fields, litter control, lining ball-fields, tree-trimming and planting, and floral maintenance.