With the current fiscal year ending, city governments across Northern Kentucky are crafting and approving budgets for the next fiscal year that runs from 2023 through 2024.
Fort Mitchell is one of those cities.
At the June 5 Fort Mitchell City Council Meeting, the city conducted a first reading of the proposed summary budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year.
In modifying their budget to work for this upcoming fiscal year, Fort Mitchell considered their 2023 financial audit, which indicated that the city is in strong financial standing. This has been a trend in their audits over the past several years.
This is in line with the city’s goal to “provide exceptional government services to [their] residents and seize economic development opportunities to provide for [their] future,” according to the city’s website.
Mayor Jude Hehman states in his budget message that “[his] utmost priority is to ensure the continued growth, development, and well-being of our city.”
In the interest of those goals, this city budget focuses on “fiscal prudence, strategic investments, and delivering essential services to our residents.”
Parts of the budget will not change as the city moves into the 2023-2024 fiscal year. The park property tax rate, health insurance premium taxes, payroll taxes, and gross receipts tax will all remain the same.
But Fort Mitchell will see some changes, which are in accordance with city-funded projects that will play out over the next couple of years.
For example, the city’s budget message states that $2 million will be earmarked for improvements and reconstruction on Royal Drive. This is necessary to the construction of the old Drawbridge Inn Site, which will become a mixed-use development including office, retail, and commercial spaces.
Additionally, the police department’s budget will increase, in part due to the purchase of new body cameras and tasers, a change proposed by new Police Chief Robert Nader.
“The police department budget increased $142,000 for overtime to fill open spots in the schedule and for the replacement of body cameras and tasers net of lower expenses medical insurance costs,” City Administrator Edwin King said.
Some of the ways in which the 2023-2024 budget is different from previous years reflects the change in economic conditions, according to the city. The new budget accounts for an “up to 6% increase in [city government] employee wages for merit increases,” according to Hehman’s budget message.
This increase was discussed at the May 22, 2023 Fort Mitchell budget meeting.
Six percent was proposed in order to attract and retain qualified city staff, including police officers and firefighters amid increases in costs of living.
At first, the number surprised some council members, but after discussion, they ultimately decided that it made sense with the kinds of services that they wanted the city to be able to provide.
Councilmember Greg Pohlgeers explained that overall, citizens are satisfied with the services that the city provides. He understands that potentially increasing wages by 6% could be instrumental in maintaining the quality of those services.
“I’ve heard my share of insults over the years on city council. You know, those insults I’ve heard never include public works, fire, or police,” Pohlgeers said.
City Council approved this budget unanimously at Fort Mitchell’s June 26 city council meeting. It will go into effect on July 1, 2023, the first day of the new fiscal year.
“Not just having people show up when there’s an emergency, but qualified people who are excellent at what they do [makes a difference]. So yeah, the 6% is nice, really,” Councilmember Vicki Boerger added.