Despite deficit, Ottawa finances on solid footing

City Council also recognizes its police, fire telecommunicators

Ottawa City Hall

Despite a slight deficit, the city of Ottawa appears to be doing pretty well financially.

The Ottawa City Council on Tuesday night heard a report from Treasurer Don Harris regarding the budget for the fiscal 2025, then adopted an ordinance approving the budget that is what “we believe is a reasonable and attainable budget for the city to adhere to,” Harris said.

Overall, there is a projected aggregate deficit of $4.6 million, the result of projected revenues of $63.3 million and expenditures of $67.9 million. The city’s main operating account, the General Corporate Fund, lists a deficit of $1 million. Those deficits will be covered by the city’s financial reserves.

For the coming fiscal year, expenditures are expected to rise by 12.2% and revenues to increase by 17.8%.

“It was probably more challenging this year than it’s typically been, though it’s always challenging,” Harris said. “You have to be cautious in estimating revenues … and the city has been pretty disciplined on the revenue side. On the expense side, it seems it inevitably started with a large deficit, then the commissioners pare that down by deciding what can be eliminated, what can be deferred.

“Normally you would prefer not to pull $1 million from reserves to balance a budget, but when you look at isolated events that are long-term improvements for the city, that’s justifiable.”

Harris noted it’s a positive that negotiations with city personnel (police, fire, etc.) are complete and locked in for the next three years.

Council of 2027 to get pay increase

Additionally, the council voted to give the office of the mayor and the position of commissioner their first pay raise since 2011. That goes into effect in 2027 as, by law, the current council is prohibited from voting itself a hike in pay.

Telecommunicators celebrated

Also on Tuesday, in connection to April 14-20 being National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week in Ottawa, a total of 16 dispatchers were recognized for their efforts in the past year and were awarded pins based on their years of service.

After Mayor Robb Hasty read through the the city’s own proclamation, citing the telecommunicators efforts to keep police, firefighters and citizens safe with their “diligence … compassion, understanding and professionalism,” Commissioner Tom Ganiere handed out the pins to those in attendance and read the names of those who could not be there.

Those recognized, along with their years of service, were Jamie Mignone (28), Melinda Jahp (27), Grant Stock (22), Greg Dodd (22), Debbie Lucas (19), Wendy Brown (17), Daniel Francisco (14), Stacey Prindiville (11), Lindsey Tieman (10), Jacqueline Hughes (9), Adam Rowe (7), Angelica Klinefelter (8), Ashley Verdun (3), Kodi Benedetti (2), Brittany Chipman (2) and Hailey Rosales (1).

“It truly is one of the hardest jobs in the city,” Ganiere said. “I was a firefighter for 25 years and I don’t think I could do that job, I really don’t … That’s a total of 197 years of service. Well done.”

In other action, the council:

Heard a proclamation from Hasty declaring the third Saturday in September shall be “It’s Our Fox River Day,” a special celebration denoting the history of the Fox River and what it has meant and does mean to the city of Ottawa.

Approved the American Legion Post 33 Auxiliary’s “Poppy Days” fundraiser for Thursday, May 23.

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