The Fiscal Year 2020 Budget (July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020) has been finalized and is in the process of review for the yearly Audit. The Draft report shows a balance of just over $33,000 to transfer to the Balance Sheet, amidst the fiscal challenges of the Pandemic in the final quarter (April-June 2020).
Running the analysis for the entire fiscal year on the local options tax, the City was about $325,000 above where we were last year in March 2019- if the City had a “normal” 4th quarter, the options tax would’ve left the budget in a very favorable position financially. The final allotment from the State was substantially lower, as expected, but left the revenue projection for local options tax marginally meeting the mark due to the other three strong quarters of the year.
A second significant factor in balancing out the projected revenue shortfall was instituting a budget freeze in mid-March, allowing for emergency expenses only and payments needed to keep the operations of the City running. The budget freeze on spending has carried over into this fiscal year (FY2021) as well. All in all, the Pandemic has accounted for nearly $400,000 in additional costs.
Additional measures that were taken to help balance the budget included furloughing as many as 44 employees during much of the City’s partial shutdown from March-June. This alone accounted for nearly $160,000 savings. The furlough did not involve any public safety personnel, and in fact escalated some of these costs during that time as would be expected.
Property taxes for FY20 came in at 99.42%, and Martha Lyons, City Tax Collector, shares that the 1st installment of Property Tax came through as normal back in September, the next installment is due in mid-December.
The City continues to move cautiously through this fiscal year, with some significant unknowns ahead. The City will be receiving the 1st quarter allotment on local options in mid-November, and with projected revenue set just above the $4M mark for local options taxes, that’s one that will determine a lot of what the City may or may not be able to do with expenditures for this fiscal year.
Measures of cost-containment in this current fiscal year include the budget freeze as mentioned above, a number of position vacancies remain open, and the new positions approved for FY21 have not been filled and remain on hold. Items in the Capital Improvement Plan remain on hold as well and the City will re-evaluate its financial status this Spring once more is known, hopefully approving some of those expenditures to be made as planned. Any surge in the Pandemic in our region would obviously affect that, and the entire budget in a number of ways.
Having now closed out FY20, the City continues to take the actions necessary to safeguard the budget and enable the City to adequately balance out expenses and revenues, and to mitigate any projected shortfalls to keep the budget balanced amid these challenging times.
Planning for the Fiscal Year 2022 Budget has already begun. The Council, based on their guidance for putting the budget together, will receive a budget overview in mid-December with public budget meetings beginning on January 4th. The full Budget Schedule, as approved by the City Council at the October 19th meeting, can be viewed here.