Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Budget Discussion Continues

Tonight the city council and the administration continued their discussion of budget priorities. Although sales tax revenue is improving, we still have not caught up to the amount of revenue we had in 2006. Because of this, the administration and council will not be able to fund some of the niceties that some residents have asked for, like an indoor swimming pool or splash pad. Even without those kinds of things, there will surely be a tax increase - larger than last year.

It sounds like most of the council feels strongly that the city can no longer defer the improvements we have needed for many years. Although tax increases have been proposed for the past three years, the council elected to patch the budget together by reducing services. Now the only option to a tax increase would involve cutting critical services - public works, fire, police, etc. 

Elected officials want the city to look nice to attract good businesses and to keep good families. Since business sales tax is our largest source of revenue, making our city look great is critical. I wouldn't be surprised to see additional funding for maintenance of streetscapes, parks, and other city facilities. As part of the neighborhood revitalization program, an additional code enforcement officer has been suggested. 

Elected officials believe the prudent budget approach to providing fire services is to fully fund our fire contract for a year to accommodate either outcome of the fire district referendum. They may also decide to fund the first year bond payment for a hybrid fire station, and additional firefighters. By funding these items the city is prepared and can handle whichever way the November Fire District vote goes.

As we begin the budget process, here is a schedule of events:

May 1, 2013 – 6:30 p.m. – Regular City Council Meeting - City Administration will formally present the tentative budget for 2013/2014 to the city council. The city council officially acknowledges receipt, which allows the budget documents to be made available for public inspection. (State Statute requires budget documents to be made available at least 10 days prior to a public hearing on the budget.) The council must then set a time and date for the public hearing and also set a date for a public hearing regarding the previous year 2012/2013 fiscal year budget.
At all city council meetings, comments can be given during citizen comment time. An individual has two minutes to present information, and will have five minutes if they represent a group in attendance.
May 8, 2013 – 6 p.m. – City Council Work Session – The city council will have a general budget discussion.
May 15, 2013 – 6:30 p.m. – Regular City Council Meeting – The city council will continue with a general budget discussion.
May 29, 2013 – 6-7 p.m. – Town Hall Meeting – This is an opportunity for the public to come in and talk to elected officials and ask questions regarding the budget. Capital budget projects and project initiatives may also be addressed.
June 5, 2013 – 6:30 p.m. – Regular City Council Meeting – Two public hearings for the 2013-2014 Fiscal Year Budget and for the 2012-2013 Fiscal Year Budget will be held at this city council meeting. The public is welcome to come and give input. (Public input will also be taken at any of the city council meetings.) The city council may consider adoption of these budgets at that meeting.

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