Together with the Town’s CFO and departments, I am presenting our Town’s 2023 budget. This budget represents the needs of each department as well as the expectations of our community. Information will be presented to allow the council to consider investing our robust reserves to meet the expectations of the public as well as projects the council may wish to champion. The budget will meet or exceed the Town’s reserve balance policy for operational funds.
Zionsville’s municipal budget has been flatlined over the past several years. Shortly after I came into office, the COVID-19 pandemic began, and we took a conservative approach to our spending. As a result of this prudent fiscal management, we have grown our DLGF fund balances by over $6.6 million which is nearly 30% since I took office on January 1, 2020. Now, with an estimated 9% increase in revenue for 2023, we begin a renewed focus on investing in capital expenditures, community demands and Town personnel.
For the past three years, we have created the building blocks that have culminated in this strong financial position. This proposed budget allows us to maintain our healthy general fund balance and create an operationally sustainable budget with a focus on capital expenditures that we have long saved for.
55% of the overall proposed budget is centered around public safety. The 2023 budget includes an increase of $5 million to our Police and Fire. Because our public safety departments have prioritized investing in training, deployment and response, we continue to be among the safest communities in the state. Last year the Zionsville Fire Department became certified as an authorized National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians Training Center. Currently, the Zionsville Police Department is well underway to obtaining CALEA accreditation – the gold standard for best policies and practices in law enforcement.
In our Parks Department, we continue to add recreational programming opportunities that draw residents and visitors of all ages to our parks. The remarkable Winterfest event will return, and we will continue to foster relationships with partners like Maplelawn Farmstead and the Zionsville Farmers’ Market when hosting events at our parks. The establishment of a Parks Foundation in 2021 sets our town up for success in preserving and growing a thriving system of parks and programs, especially with the legacy project of the Carpenter Nature Preserve underway. Our next Five-Year Master Plan has launched and will set the stage for identifying the programs and activities, maintenance and operations, funding sources and long-term planning for Zionsville Parks.
2022 has built on the economic development momentum launched in 2020. It’s exciting to see Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing making great progress. And now we welcome Graham Rahal Brands, who is purchasing two lots in Creekside Corporate Park for their new corporate headquarters. Stay tuned for more announcements as interest in the remaining lots is strong.
We developed the Zionsville Gateway Area (ZGA) plan that sets the stage for a new entryway into our town and provides a “blueprint” for developers who want to propose development in the area. The ZGA plan is a holistic vision and an incredible asset to us as we begin infrastructure planning and design, laying the groundwork for an improved entryway into the Village Business District. We anticipate a finalized READI grant agreement in the second quarter of 2023 for $1.9 million that will fund the infrastructure engineering and design work for the ZGA.
In the Department of Public Works (DPW), we added an in-house engineering team. Because of this internal capacity, we are paving the way (pun intended!) to another large road improvement project on Oak Street. By establishing the Pedestrian Mobility Advisory Committee (PMAC), we are working directly with residents and using a measured, researched process for adding crosswalks. DPW will continue to focus on crosswalks and pathways for safety and connectivity throughout town, especially near our schools. This budget includes multiple pathway projects for construction: north side of Mulberry Street, south side of Whitestown Road, west side of CR 875 East and south side of CR 400 South. We will also begin the Oak Street pathway corridor study.
Finally, all of this could not be accomplished without Town employees. I am presenting a 4% cost of living raise for our valued workforce. Personnel services represent a 12.5% increase in the 2023 budget, and this is consistent with the income tax growth. The 2023 budget will add public safety members to the Zionsville Police Department and Zionsville Fire Department and staff to the Department of Public Works and Community and Economic Development Department.
We are ending 2022 just like we started it – Zionsville is in a strong financial position. Our cash balances and reserves are very healthy. We are ending 2022 with over $57 million in fund balance – more than we started when I took office in 2020. I look forward to an open, timely effort and dialogue for the 2023 budget.
Mayor Emily Styron