City works to budget for fiscal year

Published 6:16 pm Tuesday, July 29, 2008

With only $8.5 million in anticipated revenue and departments asking for a total of $10.8 million, the city is working to cut expenses.

A budget workshop Monday afternoon worked to cut more then $2 million from what departments requested during the next fiscal year.

City Clerk Amber Hinton said the city is expecting to receive about $8.5 million in revenue for the next fiscal year, but department head requests and projected city expenses have totaled $10.8 million. Now city officials are working with each department head to see where cuts can be made to balance the budget for a year that has yet to start.

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During the discussion council members learned that the train depot still needs about $110,000 of work to build a platform. Without the platform the train will not stop at the station and the depot can’t be used, Hinton said.

Mayor Greg Mitchell asked if the platform was supposed to be part of the project, then why was it not done. There was no further discussion on the matter.

Discussions with department heads and city officials sought to try to cut some of the expenditures. Public Works Director Chad Frierson was among the department heads with whom the council, mayor, city clerk and interim city manager met.

With all of the proposed capital outlay taken out of Frierson’s proposed budget, the projection still comes up about $700,000 short of the amount that needs to be cut from the budget, Hinton said.

Council members Donald Parker, Larry Watkins, Leavern Guy and Jerry Bounds all had road projects they wanted to see completed in the next fiscal year. Parker listed the culverts on South Blanks Avenue while Bounds listed East Canal as a priority.

“I don’t know if we have to pull the money out of a hat,” Watkins said.

Frierson said he needs more powerful computers in his department to run large programs. A laptop computer will help the city maintain traffic lights in house, instead of calling in an outside company to trouble shoot problems.

“A lot of these things you could trouble shoot yourself,” Frierson said.

The meeting touched on a couple of other topics in other departments such as the use of drug forfeiture funds to purchase police cars, increasing rates in the utility department to offset losses and leasing out the concession stands to organizations holding tournaments to make Friendship Park more self sufficient.

Interim City Manager Harvey Miller said the resolution to increase rates on water and gas will help the city manage the budget.

“In my opinion, the taxpayers have been blessed and fortunate,” Miller said.

Miller expects two more meetings including hi, Hinton and other department heads, such as the Police Department and the Fire Department to take place. After those meetings, a public workshop will be held with the mayor and council, Miller said.