By Carol C. Neugent
Mayor Bruce Armstrong presented a proposed 2014 budget that would maintain the current tax rate and focus on core services.
“People like to see that we are making sure we are not raising taxes but still making sure that the services are out there that people want,” Armstrong said.
The proposed budget provides the funding to fill certain open positions including a part-time senior center assistant and an animal control officer.
“So the police officers can get back to doing what they do best, we have an animal control officer,” Armstrong said.
Council member Steve Crum expressed support for filling the senior center assistant position.
Armstrong noted that the patrons of the senior center have been asking for additional help.
The city’s debt level continues to be scrutinized as 2014 shows a drop in both the General Obligation and Revenue Bonds debt level. The GO bond debt will be reduced by $1.822 million with the revenue bonding dropping by $340,000.
Council member Steve Crum asked for clarification on streets, noting that there was an increase in funding for street maintenance. Armstrong explained that the assessment of city streets was still in progress. The results of the assessment would then provide the basis for an updated streets improvement and maintenance plan. Armstrong said that there continue to be plans for additional street improvements and maintenance for both 2013 and 2014.
Additional funding for park improvements was a concern voiced by council member Russ Kessler. Armstrong explained that by returning building inspection to the city, parks would automatically receive additional funding through the permitting process.
Kessler and Armstrong agreed that the city needed to continue to look for revenue sources to fund park improvements.
Additional funding for the pool was discussed. Recreation director Georgie Carter explained that there were larger maintenance items that had been delayed the last several years and that those items were being addressed in the 2014 budget.
Council member Keith Pierce asked for clarification on the water revenue projections commenting that the projections seemed optimistic. Chief administrative officer Will Black explained that the budget was developed based on a dry year.
Black said he believed that the projections were reasonable based on history and the possible effects of weather. Armstrong commented that if the revenue wasn’t received expenditures would be appropriated adjusted.
Council consensus was in support of the proposed 2014 budget. The public hearing for the proposed 2014 budget is scheduled for August 12, 2013.