Proposed Budget will now go to voters
The City Council, at its meeting on January 4th, adopted the proposed budget for the fiscal year 2021-2022 (July 1, 2021-June 30, 2022). The proposed budget is a 0.98% increase in the tax rate, just under 1%. Based on what is being proposed, what that means to the average taxpayer is an increase of $13.01 for the year on the average condo, and an $18.76 increase for the year to the average homeowner. The budget will now go before the voters for approval at the Annual City Meeting to be held on March 2nd.
The City is bringing forth a budget that has compromises, sacrifices, and in some departments- reduced funding for services. Deputy City Manager, Tom Hubbard shared with the City Council, “The City is responding in a way we believe to be fiscally prudent and responsible given the challenges we as a City, and everyone is facing.”
Hubbard continued, “while some of the more significant increases or decreases have been projected, I’m more concerned about the reduction in projected revenue that the relatively small increase in expenses for FY22.”
The budget assumes a 1% growth in the Grand List as projected by the City Assessor, understanding that the real Grand List numbers will change once the Reappraisal is complete- but this provides the only true measure of how residents can determine what the impact of this budget will have on their taxes at this point in time, and how it compares to recent budgets.
The total increase in expenses in the General Fund is just under $146,000, but revenue is down almost $262,000, largely due to the impact with a reduction projected in the Local Options Taxes.
Expense factors range from a number of cost drivers which include:
agreements with the three Bargaining Units; Health Insurance & Pension increases; Workers Comp & property & liability insurance increases;
reduction in interest on investments; increase in funding needed for the opening of the new Library; and the decrease in revenue for Local Options Tax as mentioned above. All told, these items alone account for nearly $1.3 Million in costs.
On the revenue side, the City conservatively projects a 1% growth in the Grand List; City Clerk revenue remains high for recording fees and vital records; the City has an additional tenant at the 19 Gregory Dr. building, where the Police Station is located, and the City now owns the building; the Fire Dept. projects to be able to maintain the fire inspection fees and increase the revenue in ambulance fees; and the City also retired the debt that was due on the Public Works Building- about $100,000 in principal & interest.
These unfortunately don’t outweigh the budget impacts, so significant cuts in the FY22 proposed budget were necessary. These have included: additional cuts to the Capital Improvement Plan (major projects & purchases as part of a 10-year plan); cuts to various line items within the General Fund; cuts to the reserve funds; and a number of staff positions will not be filled.
A number of staff positions have either opened up since the Pandemic, or were approved positions in the FY21 budget that have not yet been filled, and will not be included in the FY22 Budget. These include: 1 Patrol Office, 1 Firefighter, City Planner, Deputy Finance Officer, Parks Laborer, and the Benefits Administrator position. Additionally, several positions are proposed to merge from 2 separate positions to shared positions- 9 staff positions in total. These decisions did not come easy and were carefully examined and reviewed with department managers and the Council based on where the City currently is fiscally. This will impact the level of service from departments, some more than others.
The City Council was engaged in worthwhile back and forth discussion with Department Managers related to budget impacts, level of service, loss of positions, and other questions and comments from both the Council and the public before approving the proposed budget unanimously with a 5-0 vote.
The entire proposed budget is currently available on the City website CLICK HERE to view. The Enterprise Funds for Water, Stormwater, and Sewer can also be accessed by CLICKING HERE, and the Capital Improvement Plan for 2022-2031 is available cy CLICKING HERE.
Budget booklets will be available for the City budget by the end of January and if you’d like to be mailed a copy, please call the City Manager’s office at 846-4107 and leave your name and mailing address to request a copy. In addition to viewing the budget presentation with the City Council at the following link CLICK HERE (The General Fund budget presentation starts at about 59 minutes into the recording). The City will also be posting a video with a PowerPoint presentation for viewing within the next few weeks. Additional advertising will also be published in The Other Paper.
For any questions or comments regarding the proposed budget, please contact any of the City Council members, or call the City Manager’s Office at 846-4107, (Kevin Dorn, Manager; Tom Hubbard, Deputy Manager) or email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com.