City staff cuts into massive budget deficit, still faces $2 million shortfall

Posted at 5:18 PM, May 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-17 18:18:26-04

In a revamped budget proposal presented to the city council Thursday, city staff cut an additional $10 million from the FY 2019 budget, leaving just a $2 million shortfall.

So, where did the money come from?

More than $3.3 million was made up by an estimated $520,000 in revenue increases, rather than a $2.8 million revenue reduction.  Internal service cuts to information technology, fleet, and facilities wiped out another $800,000, while cuts to 13 city departments save more than $1.5 million.

“Taking doomsday budgets, going worst case scenario, really basically scaring everyone, that’s really not good effective budgeting,” said City Councilwoman Debbie Lindsey-Opel.  “What I saw today was very thoughtful and deliberative on the part of the staff.”

The new plan also called for $4.4 million to move from the city’s utility fund to the general fund.  Utility rates won’t be affected, but there is a proposed increase of $2.21 to commercial and residential solid waste fees, which should generate $516,000.

Street repairs are another hot-button topic.  To help pay for repairs, the council plans to finally implement a series of $0.02 property tax increases over the next three years that were approved by voters in 2016.

“It won’t be without a little pain,” said Lindsey-Opel.  “Unfortunately right now we’re in that balance of what’s it going to take to generate more revenues, reduce our expenses, and meet the obligations we have?”

More savings are expected once the city picks a new health plan for police and fire employees.

Speaking of police and fire, no staffing cuts are expected, and there’s money in the budget for next year’s academies.

More cuts will be presented at the next workshop in June.  City officials believe they’ll find a way to balance the budget by the end of July.

See the attached PowerPoint presentation for a full breakdown of the current budget proposal.