Tuesday, 15 May 2018 20:51

No tax increase proposed in city's upcoming FY budget

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City Manager Joseph Scherer will not recommend a tax increase for the upcoming fiscal year budget.

Scherer announced there would be no tax increase proposed or fund balance allocated during his report at this evening’s city council meeting.

A budget work session will be held May 30 at 5:15 p.m. at Lloyd Andrews City Meeting Hall.

He said following the meeting the 2018-19 financial plan should more or less be in line with the current fiscal year budget of $15.648 million. There was no tax increase called for in the current budget.

“I’m not considering recommending any tax increase nor any fund balance allocation for next year’s budget,” he told council.

He said, however, revenue projections are trending flat for next fiscal year. “Some usage fees may need to be considered for increases, especially as fuel costs continue to rise.”

Scherer projects the city will continue to provide the same level of services it does now. “Healthcare cost estimates are very good with little increase expected in the overall cost of health insurance to the city.”

The inflation rate for next fiscal year is expected to remain subdued, he said. “I’m also expecting that the local unemployment rate will not decrease and interest rates will rise in the next fiscal year.”

Mayor Emery Doughtie commended city staff and human resources for the health plan. “Healthcare can wreak havoc,” he said. “We’ve been fortunate to keep ours low as possible. I’m glad we have another budget with a tax increase and not having to take any dollars out of our fund balance.”

Doughtie said he did notice the city has a significant amount of sales tax not collected.

“We hope to see that trend spring upward,” Finance Director Leigh Etheridge said.

Councilman Carl Ferebee asked whether the city was going to be able to keep revenues above expenses before the current fiscal years ends.

“That’s why we’re implementing a spending freeze,” Scherer said. “We’re hoping that will take care of it. We’re trying to hold (down the) expenses as best we can.”

Etheridge discussed the spending freeze in her report to council. “The city still has a large expenditure requirement forthcoming in May.”

Those expenditures include loan repayments on the theater, three payrolls in June and the fourth quarter E-911 contractual payment. “These requirements are in addition to daily operational spending. We all have to be mindful with day-to-day expenditures in our last few months to remain favorable to budget as we end the fiscal year. As a result, the city manager has initiated a spending freeze across all departments for non-emergency items. Non-essential purchases will be deferred until July …”

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