Friday, August 28, 2009
Financial Advisory Committee Gets Dept. Managers' Inputs
This Committee --comprised of retired/active financial experts -- recently held a marathon 8+ hour meeting: generally purposed to review the Mayor's proposed FY2010 budget, solicit opinions from Individual Department Managers (their budget needs/goals) and then make recommendations to the City Council. Chairman Chuck Zunk said one of this meeting's main objectives was to "see what's in the minds of the Department Mangers." Member Lonnie Mixon: "Its new for Department Heads to be involved in planning our City's future. Keep in mind though . . . we're not out of the woods yet . . . recession's not over . . . needs to be a close to the bone budget again . . . citizens' are suffering too . . . no Social Security increase for our Seniors this year . . . maybe in 2011 we can do more." (A) PROJECTED 2010 REVENUE [Mostly presented by Administrative Superintendent James Gillespie] 1. The new City sales tax is expected to generate about $4million. ($2 million to go to the depleted Reserve Fund; $2 million to the General Fund)) 2. Property tax revenues are expected to decrease about 13% (from this year) --due to reduced property values (appraisals). 3. Sewer rate hikes are already scheduled for this Oct.-- and again in Oct. 2010. Council members present expressed surprise when Gillespie suggested these would make the system financially self sufficient. Kingrea: "That wasn't my understanding." Gillespie: "You may be right. I don't have the figures here in front of me." 4. Water revenue will be flat (compared to this year) due to lack of new construction. Usage is weather dependent (rainfall). Note: Council members present again expressed surprise here-- when Gillespie said that the Water/Sewer Dept. was not to be "separated" Oct. 1st -- as they had expected. Quinn: "That's why we increased rates." Fogarty: "The problem is dividing the (capital) assets." Member Stan Grubin: "You don't want to be subsidizing sewer by water." Grubin then made a motion the Committee recommend to the Council that the Water/Sewer Dept. be separated into 2 independent Departments (passed unanimously). 5. Electric revenue is predicted to rise significantly in the Mayor's budget, but Manager Scott Sligh's estimate was nearly flat. Sligh: "The Mayor adjusted revenue up. . . said I wasn't aggressive enough." Gillespie: "The Mayor's thinking there will be a rate increase." Sligh: "Wholesale costs are expected to increase in March. We'd like to do a rate study and I believe the Mayor's assuming some sort of rate increase (commercial, residential or industrial)." Zunk: "If that's the assumption, it needs to be clearly spelled out." Kingrea said he thought the fuel adjustment charge covered such wholesale cost increases for "raw product", but was informed by Sligh that it did not. Sligh: "I haven't read the Ordinance myself, but I believe there's two parts: the Fuel Adjustment to cover raw costs for fuel and the Revenue Requirement Factor." Kingrea: "What's the Revenue Requirement Factor?" Gillespie: "Its for inflation." Mixon: "That's one of those magical things, then." Gillespie went on to say the apparent confusion/intermingling of the Fuel Adjustment Charge/Revenue Requirement Factor needed to be addressed in the proposed new rate study. Gillespie: "We need to be clear about what's going on." (Several present sighed and chuckled.) Chairman Zunk, citing the "huge" difference-- asked for more input on discrepancies (assumptions on rates and usage) between the "Mayor Submitted" and "Manager Submitted" budgets. 6. A greens fee hike at the golf course will likely be necessary on Jan 1st. The "Golf Committee Group" is planning to meet to study the issue and make a recommendation to the Council. 7. Police fines/forfeitures are expected to rise due to added officers on duty-- and possible violation (fine) hikes. 8. A possible garbage rate increase (instead of reducing to once weekly pick-up). 9. Recreation Dept. income is expected to increase significantly next year--due to hoped-for new membership fees at the recently opened Volanta Recreation Facility. Gillespie said since the facility's already open, participation numbers should be soon available. (The fees are now set about the same as Thomas Hospital, but more than the "Y") 10. Recycling income is expected to continue to be way down next year--due mostly to the recession. Stankoski: "The City has made money recycling in the past . . . should get better . . . its good for the environment." [Administrator Mims predicted the City's participation (within 2 years) in the County's new recycling program will be "a good thing financially."] Note: The Mayor and Councilman Ford did not attend. To Be Continued.