Budget expects slight drop in fund balances

The proposed city budget for the year beginning July 1 reverses a three-year run of operating in the black and in effect predicts a $1 million swing in the city’s financial condition.

Mayor Bob Morris predicts essentially flat revenues from July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009, while anticipating about a four percent increase in expenses.

Those expenses are highlighted by adjustments for a new minimum wage and higher costs for all materials and supplies, particularly gasoline and diesel fuel.

The administration estimates an overall drop in fund balances and retained earnings of about $122,000. That compares to an overall increase of about $988,000 in the current fiscal year.

Ending fund balances and retained earnings will drop to $12.5 million on June 30 of next year, according to the budget. That compares to a starting sum of $12.6 million in the current year and to a starting sum in July 2007 of $11.6 million.

On July 1, 2006, fund balances and retained earnings totaled $11.5 million.

A public hearing on the administration budget will be held at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday in the City Council meeting room on the second floor of City Hall.

At its meeting immediately following, the council will accept the budget and begin consideration of the overall plan and its line items.

A summary included with the consolidated budget given to each council member June 3 reflects where the city spends its dollars:

General government - $1.5 million;

Public safety - police, $2.2 million, fire, 1.1 million;

Public works - sanitation, sewerage and waste disposal, $1.2 million; gas, $2.2 million; other (including bi-annual street overlay program), $2.2 million;

Health and welfare - $15,000;

Culture and recreation - $776,000;

Other - $60,000.

Expected talking points as the budget goes to public hearing and the council include:

Morris’ request for a $12,000 annual pay raise;

Police Chief Gary Fontenot’s desire to replace one patrol unit quarterly, at an equipped cost of about $25,000 each - as submitted, the budget includes no such funding;

Funds for the Industrial Inducement Board - the budget includes a $9,000 increase to $12,000;

Jail expense - proposed at $126,600, compared to $153,000 this year and $281,000 last year;

Payroll -- a 5% raise for all employees paid $8 an hour or less who are supervised by Morris; only 1% longevity for all others.

Streets -- this year’s banked funds and those earmarked in the new budget total about $800,000, and the city also hopes to get a Community Block Grant for a number of streets in Wards 2 and 4.

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