The Smithville Aldermen Monday night adopted on second and final reading an $8.2 million dollar budget ordinance for the 2012-13 fiscal year which includes a 3% cost of living pay raise for employees, larger pay hikes for the police chief, secretary-treasurer, and airport manager, the creation of one new full-time fire department administrator position, a part-time court officer position for the police department to relieve overtime, and funding for a new fire department ladder truck. A new eight step wage scale will also be established for employees in the police department, while all other city employees will remain under the current four step wage scale.
The budget calls for no increase in the city property tax rate (.6490 cents per one hundred dollars of assessed value) and no increases in water or sewer rates.
The budget ordinance passed on a 4 to 1 vote. Alderman Cecil Burger, who had voted "yes" on the first reading of the budget on June 4, voted "no" on the second reading Monday night saying this is "too much budget for Smithville". Alderman Steve White, who had voted "no" on the budget two weeks ago saying he needed more time to study it, voted "yes" on the second reading Monday night.
No one spoke out either for or against passage of the budget during the public hearing, held prior to the vote.
As he did two weeks before, Mayor Taft Hendrixson warned that the city could be forced to dip deep into it's general fund surplus for recurring expenses, if it does not hold the line on spending during the year. According to the budget, an appropriation of $975,233 from the surplus will be needed to support the general fund, just to balance the budget without a property tax increase. "In this budget, if we spend it all we're going to be taking $312,000 out of our savings account (surplus), not counting the fire truck and not counting the $150,000 going into the airport (grant match for an airport runway and apron overlay (paving) project). Those two (combined) are $656,000 coming out of reserve. But if we spend all this budget there's another $312,000 that will come out of our reserve. In other words, we won't be taking in enough money to spend what we propose spending. I'll try my best, if I'm still here, not to spend all that, but there is a possibility it could be (spent)," said Mayor Hendrixson
During the June 4th meeting, Alderman Shawn Jacobs said he felt comfortable going ahead and approving this spending plan, since budgets in the past have projected red ink and actually ended up in the black, due to sound financial management practices during the fiscal year.
If the city discovers later in the year that changes need to be made in the budget, Alderman Gayla Hendrix said during the June 4th meeting that amendments can be adopted. "We can make amendments to the budget after its passed. If we get six months down the road and realize we have made a huge error we can come back and make amendments," she said.
The city's financial advisor, Janice Plemmons-Jackson, said Monday night that she had made some minor revisions in the budget, including revising downward projected increases in health insurance costs from seven percent to five percent. She said the actual increase may only be from 2.5 to 3%.
Alderman Steve White asked why the new budget showed no funds for school patrol. Mayor Hendrixson said the city is committed to spending $3,000 and that funds will be allocated from another line item. Under an agreement, the city, county and school board are to cost share to provide manned traffic control in the busy school zones at Northside Elementary School and DeKalb Middle School.
Alderman White also asked that the budget document reflect that any new employment during the budget year will have rates, approved by the board, established by the "Commissioner" of the department affected along with the Mayor and Secretary/Treasurer and not JUST the Mayor and Secretary/Treasurer.
Under the budget, a new fire administrator position will be created. The salary is to be set at $35,000 plus benefits. No other full time fire department positions have been included in this budget, but others may be considered if a grant is obtained to fund them.
The budget also increases the salaries of three other department heads or managers as follows:
Secretary-Treasurer: regular pay to be increased from $49,896 to $56,000 per year
Police Chief: regular pay to be increased from $48,204 to $55,000 per year
Airport Manager: regular pay to be increased from $29,818 to $35,000 per year
Each of these four positions, fire administrator, secretary-treasurer, police chief, and airport manager, like all other city employees are budgeted to receive a one percent bonus at Christmas time, and they receive a health insurance benefit equating to $7,905; along with an $85 life insurance and $276 dental insurance benefit, paid by the city.
All other city employees are to receive any step pay raises due them, plus a 3% cost of living increase, under this budget.
Step increases will be given on the hire anniversary date, rather than July 1 of each year, beginning with this budget.
New employees will receive the full amount of the starting pay for their positions when put to work, instead of their pay being increased after a sixty day probationary period.
A part-time court officer to work twenty hours is to be added to the police department, with overtime reduced for the other officers by approximately 52 hours per officer.
The proposed budget, totaling $8-million 297-thousand 195, calls for no increases in water or sewer rates or the property tax rate, of .6490 cents per one hundred dollars of assessed value. But in order to balance the budget, the city is appropriating to the general fund $975,233 from the surplus. The city property tax rate generates approximately $790,000 a year.
Water customers will continue to pay $5.00 for the first one thousand gallons of water usage plus $5.00 for each additional one thousand gallons of usage. Outside city rates are $7.50 for the first one thousand gallons of water usage plus $7.50 for each additional one thousand gallons of usage.
The rate for city sewer customers, under the new budget, will continue to be $5.00 for the first one thousand gallons of usage plus $5.00 per thousand gallons thereafter. In addition, all sewer customers will continue to pay the $3.62 cent per month flat rate usage fee.
The rate the city charges the DeKalb Utility District for water is $2.00 per thousand gallons but will increase to $2.05 per thousand gallons beginning with January 1, 2013 sales.
Proposed capital outlay expenditures in the general fund for the new year come to $2,382,667.
Specific projects are as follows:
Parks and Recreation:
$5,000 for a fence
Public Works/Buildings and Grounds:
$15,000 for a trailer
City Hall Building:
$496,000 for ladder truck payments
$20,000 for a chipper truck
$20,000 for a vehicle
$15,000 for traffic lights
$25,000 for a police car
$1,666,667 for the runway and apron overlay (90% of that funded by grants with a 10% local match by the city)
Proposed water and sewer fund Fixed Asset Additions: Automatic meter readers project- $410,000; Capital improvements-paint water tank- $80,000; Sewer plant improvement study & engineering fees- $18,000; Sewer plant updates- $250,000; Sewer rehabilitation camera- $125,000
Although these capital outlay projects are budgeted, they all may not be funded during the year.
The proposed budget breaks down as follows:
General Fund: $4,424,570
Special Revenue Fund-Sanitation: $283,000
Water & Sewer Fund: $2,378,000
Drug Fund: $7,050
Appropriation of Surplus- General Fund: $975,233
Appropriation of Surplus-Drug Fund: $11,750
Appropriation of Surplus-Water & Sewer Fund: $217,592
Total Revenues: $8,297, 195
General Fund: $5,399,803
Special Revenue Funds Sanitation: $282,927
Water & Sewer Fund: $2,595,592
Drug Fund: $18,800
Total expenditures: $8,297,195
Meanwhile, in other business, the board voted to hire Gail Winne, Jr. as a full time employee in the sanitation department, since he has completed his 60 day probationary period. His pay will increase from $10.66 to $11.36 per hour.