Archived Story

Council proposes capital cuts to budget

Published 7:26pm Thursday, October 3, 2013

The city council met to discuss the 2013-14 budget on Thursday in the final of such meetings before the budget is submitted for approval at Monday’s council meeting.
City finance director Steve Hays said that Tuesday’s meeting reviewed the budget as a whole, while the past three weeks were devoted to one-on-one meetings with city department heads.
“Those meetings were designed to expose the council to each department’s requests and the budget each department is submitting,” Hays said.
These department head meetings were historically used for proposing changes though this time around, Tuesday’s summary meeting saw the most discussion of cuts.
“For me, I like to point out my biggest concerns, and that is the capital asset requests which are huge,” Hays said. “There is a reason why. We have a lot of big projects in there, including the $1.9 million for the second round of ATRIP.”
The 2013-14 proposed city budget included $6,601,236 in capital requests, up from some $5.8 million the previous year – which Hays added was itself quite large due to round one funding commitments for ATRIP.
“There is no way we can avoid (certain large capital expenditures),” Hays said. “It is the smart move to accept it and pay for it now to get road improvements for 20 cents on $1.”
While reviewing several capital requests, councilmember Tony Goss proposed cutting all capital requests by a flat rate.
“It may be far off base, but I suggest cutting the budget 20 percent across the board,” Goss said. “If a department absolutely needs to have something, we can amend the budget. Then when they come in for an amendment, we can be sure the yhave to have it.”
Hays said in the meeting that this could be done, though some department’s capital requests included items that could not be cut.
The council proposed changing the budget to cut what remains of the capital requestsafter non-negotiable items are removed for the police and fire departments by 20 percent.
The Sportplex capital budget, save for a few items deemed essential, was recommended to be cut 10 percent and the gymnastics program would have its capital budget trimmed by 20 percent.
While the new budget shows an increase in capital items, it also is predicting a decrease in revenue compared to 2012-13. The budget projects $46,689,763 in total revenue, down from $49,599,659 in 2012-2013.
Salaries are down slightly at $15,902,448 compared to the previous budget, but operational expenses were budgeted at $25,970,345 for 2013-14, up from $20,892,055 the previous year.
Hays said a budget to reflect these changes will be presented to the council for approval at Monday’s council meeting.