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City council Friday began earnestly looking at next year’s budget, meeting throughout the day with department heads to review their requests.

The meeting began with City Manager Joel Mazur outlining to council some of the goals that were accomplished this year, including increased housing starts, economic growth and passage of the new pool facility levy.

For 2020, those first two goals remain, and Mazur added settling contracts with satellite communities for water service and to begin planning for a facility study for the police department.

Mazur said balancing the budget depends on $4.1 million in income tax revenue being realized, as well as moving $97,000 from the pool maintenance fund into the general fund operations area. That money had been set aside over the last several years to rehab the pool, but last year it was decided to build a new facility.

Upcoming projects for 2020 include working on improvements to American Road, Graceway Drive, Perry Street, the waste water treatment plant rehabilitation and a new water line under a second river bridge.

For American Road, that project is also tied into the building of a new truck stop on the road, for which ground should be broke in the spring. City Public Works Director Chad Lulfs said part of the road rebuild project will include closing the intersection at American Road and Industrial Drive.

He added the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), which will be handling much of the project, has decided the roads there should be three lanes, and a traffic signal will be installed. Currently the intersection is a four-way stop.

The total project is estimated in the $3 million area, but the truck stop will be paying a share, and ODOT is also providing funding.

Council will need to find about $400,000 that had been cut from the budget for work to put a water line under the second river bridge being built by the county. Lulfs said $400,000 had been budgeted for this year, but it was not used. He had intended to carry it to 2020, but Mazur cut it.

Council said it wished to leave it in, though as of mid-day Friday there was no discussion where the money would come from. Mazur said he cut it to balance the budget and because it’s not a “necessity,” but did say it would be a good idea.

Another $100,000 will be needed for the project in the following year, but Lulfs said attaching the water line to the bridge is the city’s best and least expensive option for getting a third water line to the south side of the city.

“We’ll probably never get another opportunity like this,” Lulfs said.

Bids on the project are expected to be taken Dec. 12, and though the project won’t begin for quite some time, ODOT requires the $400,000 to be put into an escrow account.

Other highlights from Friday’s meeting include:

•The Parks and Recreation Department is looking to eventually increase its golf cart fleet at the municipal golf course by about 12 carts, bringing the total to 36. Director Tony Cotter said there are fewer golfers using their own private carts now and he doesn’t want to run the risk of not having carts available.

•The demolition of the current pool, originally stated as being done sometime this month, likely won’t happen until December or January. Cotter said he has been told doing the work when the ground is harder will make less mess. He added plans for the new facility are about one third completed, and he anticipates meeting with the pool commission in a couple of weeks to review the plan so far.

•A $1 million sewer project for Lynne Avenue was cut out, but outside funding sources will continue to be explored.

•The city has about 1,000 tons of salt on hand in storage, and will take delivery of another 500 tons at some point, which should be enough even for a bad winter.

•The Henry County Chamber of Commerce, using Visitor’s Bureau money it manages on behalf of the city, will be adding a large, lighted arch to the Christmas light display at Ritter Park.

•The city’s portion of funding for the Henry County Community Improvement Corp. will increase from $35,400 to $37,000.

•The Napoleon Municipal Court will be updating its security system at a cost of $1,500. This will include more panic buttons throughout the offices and making the system compatible with the new county emergency radio system.

Council will meet with the police and fire chiefs Saturday morning to finish up budget talks. Council will then make final decisions on additional requests made before finalizing next year’s budget.

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I started at the Northwest Signal in 1994 and became editor in 2004. I graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1994.

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