City OKs spending plan for 2011-12
By Ty Johnson
Published in News on June 22, 2011 1:46 PM
The City Council unanimously approved the city's budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year Tuesday in the Council Chambers just after 5 p.m. during a special reconvening of the council for the sole purpose of adopting the spending plan.
Finance Director Kaye Scott presented the budget, which was the only item on the agenda, to council along with the revisions agreed upon during Monday's budget work session.
Despite the 7-0 vote, Mayor Al King's sentiment from Monday night that the budget was not perfect was clearly evident leading up to the vote, as District 6 Councilman Jackie Warrick asked Mrs. Scott when the council could make its earliest amendments to the budget.
Amendments can be made as soon as the budget becomes current on July 1, the first day of the fiscal year.
The budgets for the golf course and the city's information technology department were reduced through the termination of two full-time maintenance positions for the course, reductions in other golf course line items and the delay of a $100,000 payment for technology acquired by IT until next year.
The golf course positions will be replaced, instead, with two part-time positions for use during the months when maintenance is needed most. Overall the golf course saw its budget decrease by a net of $84,614.
The budget also reallocates the money originally freed up for the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp.'s proposed business recruiter position toward the business incentive grant. DGDC director Julie Thomp-son said those funds will allow for three grants, along with the additional grant provided for in the department's revised budget, allowing for four total grants.
The maintenance division and water reclamation facility lost $10,000 each through the utility fund, along with $20,000 for chemicals at the water treatment plant, to provide $40,000 out of the utility fund for salary reserve. That $40,000 will be combined with $300,000 out of the general fund to be put toward a salary bonus for city employees to be distributed in August. Interim City Manager Tasha Logan estimated the across-the-board bonus would amount to about $750 per employee.
"I think this is as good as we can do right now," King said.
Ms. Logan has said that implementing a raise for city employees has been the aim of the council since budget talks first began.
The council might find another way to give back to the city's employees before the calendar year is out, as District 4 Councilman Rev. Charles Williams asked if it was possible to amend the budget at a later date to include the city's Christmas party.
King had an even more innovative idea.
"The council could fund it," he said, with Williams saying he would be willing to pay his part if the other six members of the board would agree to it as well.
Apart from the budget talks, District 2 Councilman Bob Waller asked if further travel restrictions for city employees were possible to eliminate unneeded travel, including having all travel requests reviewed by the city manager. Ms. Logan said department heads had already limited travel to the bare minimum required to maintain certifications.
"We'll continue to monitor travel. All three do it now," she said, noting that the finance director, herself and the respective department head all verified whether travel was needed or not.
Mayor Pro tem Chuck Allen asked Ms. Logan about further attrition. She said department heads will be encouraged to use existing staff when employees resign, quit or retire, although emergency personnel, like police officers and firefighters, will be viewed differently.
The tax rate was approved to remain at .65, which will generate more revenue than the revenue-neutral budget plan accounted for. The revenue-neutral tax rate was advertised to be .5942, meaning that the city could have lowered the tax rate from .65 to that figure and still expect to collect the same amount of tax revenue this year as during fiscal year 2010-11.
As for the purpose of keeping the tax rate .0558 above revenue neutral, Ms. Logan said the move was one to insure the city would have a contingency fund.
"Staff hasn't been told what will happen with that. I think it's in anticipation of projects that they know are coming up and some delayed projects the city hasn't been able to implement," she said, adding that she hoped having the rate above revenue neutral would give the city some consistency come next budget season. "It's hopefully the tax rate we'll have for years to come."