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The city is facing an $8.4 million budget gap in its General Fund for the 2010-2011 fiscal year and is soliciting citizens’ opinions on options to close the gap.

The General Fund is the city’s primary fund and accounts from most tax-supported services.

City Manager Lee Garrity briefed Mayor Allen Joines and the City Council on the gap during a pre-budget workshop on March 29. Of the $8.4 million, $4.4 million is attributed to falling property- and sales-taxes revenue because of the economic recession. Decreases in other revenue, combined with a $1.6 million increase in expenses, account for the rest of the projected gap.

The overall increase in expenses can be attributed to the $1.7 million the city must pay into state and local employee retirement systems. Absent that requirement, city spending would have dropped next year, said Ann Jones, the director of budget and evaluation.

As currently projected, the General Fund would have $173.1 million in expenses and $164.7 million in revenue and transfers.

Over the next few weeks, the city staff will be considering options to address the budget gap. At the workshop, Jones presented a menu of options for closing the gap, totaling $9.1 million. Options include budget reductions in planning, inspections and other development-related city functions for which demand has been reduced because of the recession; reductions in the current level of some city services; full implementation of curbside refuse garbage collection, reductions in grants to community agencies; and increases in revenue through new and existing fees.

Other options, Jones said, include additional personnel savings from improved employee productivity, elimination of the employee performance pay package, and an increase in the property-tax rate. A one-cent addition to the property tax rate would generate approximately $2 million in revenue.

More information about the budget gap, and options to close it, is posted here (link below), along with a comment box to send an opinion on which options the city should pursue. After reading about the proposed budget, residents can also post their thoughts on the city’s Facebook page, where they can also read what other citizens have to say.

Garrity will recommend a budget to the City Council in May, after which the council will hold a series of budget workshops. These workshops are open to the public but are for the purpose of allowing council members to study the proposed budget. Citizens can speak on the proposed budget at public hearings the Finance Committee and the City Council will hold on the budget.

Budget workshops are tentatively scheduled for May 27, June 1, June 10 and June 14.
The Finance Committee public hearing is tentatively scheduled for June 8, and the City Council public hearing is tentatively scheduled for June 21.

The Citizens Budget Advisory Council is tentatively scheduled to review the budget June 3.

The proposed budget will also be posted on the city’s Web site once it has been sent to the council. By law, the City Council must adopt a budget for 2010-2011 by June 30. The budget would take effect July 1.

Read details about the proposed budget and share your opinion 


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