By Barry Dalton
The Vandalia Board of Aldermen approved the city’s 2021-22 fiscal year budget at its regular Feb. 9 meeting. City Administrator Darren Berry reported that the city’s fund balances are strong and in the black this year, but the city continues to have maintenance and equipment needs.
The budget includes a number of capital improvements to replace aging vehicles and equipment. The city plans to replace the City Hall drive-through window, two downtown park benches, telephone equipment and the city’s 2007 administrative vehicle. Four new horseshoe pits will also be constructed along Jefferson Street.
Annual road maintenance in the form of chip seal will continue, but the cost of the planned work will rise from $850 to $1,000 per city block. The water tower also needs to be repainted, including the inside, as well as some concrete work.
In addition to those items, Berry said that the city still needs to upgrade its computer firewall against hacking and viruses. The city also plans to map the storm sewer, which will also help review drainage issues.
As previously reported in the Leader, the city has applied for a Community Development Block Grant to assist residents with voluntarily demolishing dilapidated houses in the community. Meanwhile, this year’s budget also includes $20,000 for a “Demolition Incentive Program” for the same purpose.
The budget also continues to set aside money for any maintenance or repairs that may arise at the city reservoir. A recent example is when the apron at the city dam had to be repaired about a year ago when it was damaged by a fallen tree. Someday, the entire apron may need to be replaced, Berry noted. The city will also begin setting aside funds to replace the utility department’s bucket truck.
Finally, the budget includes a rollover of $700,000 from last year’s budget that will go toward the city’s electric conversion after Central Electric builds a new substation for the community.
“The $700,000 is for electric conversion of our distribution system in town,” said Berry. “We have been saving money for years for this project. I was looking to start some of it last year right before the substation fire.”
The City of Vandalia’s new fiscal year begins March 1.