Two-thirds of West Chester's $51.7 million budget goes to public safety in 2022

·3 min read

WEST CHESTER TWP. – More than two-thirds of West Chester Township’s budget will be spent this year on public safety – firefighters, police and dispatch personnel.

About $35.5 million of the $51.7 million budget is allocated to public safety – or 68.8%. Another $6.1 million – 11.9% – will be spent on roads and infrastructure.

Overall, the budget is a 7.7% increase over 2021, said Larry Burks, township administrator.

“This budget, like those that have gone before, focuses on the township’s core mission and services,’’ Burks said.

“It also reflects West Chester’s ongoing commitment to fiscal responsibility.”

In presenting the township’s 2022 operational budget, finance director Ken Keim said 10 funds were included in the computation.

The fire department is expected to have $17.2 million in revenue and plans to spend nearly $17.8 million – a 10.4 increase over last year. Much of the increase - $1.5 million – is in personnel costs, said fire Chief Rick Prinz.

Included in this year’s budget is the addition of three new lieutenant and three new firefighter positions at a cost of about $750,000.

“The West Chester Fire Department has lost 50% of its part-time complement,’’ Prinz said. “We believe in the long run the investment will be worthwhile as we continue to reduce the dependence on part-time staffing and can reduce our overtime costs.”

The police department is projecting nearly $18.9 million in revenue, but only $17.7 million in expenses, Keim said. That’s a 3.3% increase over last year.

Much of that can be attributed to increased pay, said Joel Herzog, police chief. Last year, he said, the department focused on hiring to fill vacant positions.

“We were able to hire 15 police officers in 2021 – the highest number we ever hired in a year,” Herzog said.

“Fewer people are entering law enforcement. Where were once hundreds of candidates to choose from, there (are) now dozens.”

The township is planning to spend about $6.5 million this year mostly on roads. Included in that is $6.6 million over this year and next year from the America Rescue Plan for COVID relief.

About $3 million of that this year is being targeted to repair and replace the township’s stormwater systems, Keim said.

Besides stormwater pipe replacement, money will be used for paving, concrete curb replacements and storm pipes.

This year’s capital improvement plan has projects totaling $32.7 million, but nearly 72% of that will come from tax increment finance funds not included in the operating budget.

Capital improvement plan includes TIF projects

Among those TIF projects are:

  • $9 million for greenspace and a recreation area along the east Fork of the Mill Creek.

  • $6.6 million for possible expansion of the West Chester branch of MidPointe Library.

  • $1.5 million for improvements on West Chester Road.

  • $1.2 million for asphalt paving.

  • $700,000 for widening Crescentville Road.

  • $600,000 to replace Hazmat vehicle.

Other projects for 2022

  • $186,500 for Keehner Park: paving, concrete, cabin repair, updates to multi-use courts; remodeling of the backstage of amphitheater.

  • $551,000 for police department: two drones and training; replace nine vehicles, 55 shotguns, and canine unit.

  • $461,000 for fifire department: firefighter gear, diesel capture system, remodel kitchens at two stations, replace a 2010 Ford Expedition, expand traffic signal preemption intersections.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Two-thirds of West Chester's $51.7M budget to go to public safety

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