Council Says FY 2013 Budget Needs Tweaking, Citizen Input
Even though a budget hearing was held as part of Monday's night meeting, no citizens came forward to speak or ask questions.
Smyrna City Council was presented with the preliminary Fiscal Year 2013 budget at Monday’s Smyrna City Council meeting with several representatives acknowledging that it still needs work.
Monica Jones, the city’s budget officer, presented a $73,372,785 budget that breaks down to $38,536,854 for the general fund, $12,931,030 for special revenues and $21,904,785 for the water and sewer fund. The budget is balanced without tax increases, furlough days, layoffs, use of reserve funds or cuts to city services and is based on a rate of 8.99 mills. Jones reported that the city has not increased its millage rate since 1991.
She said that although the city wasn’t able to collect more property tax revenue this year, other miscellaneous fees helped increase the budget from $70,938,283 for FY 2012 to $73,372,785 for FY 2013.
The General Fund
Jones explained what funds comprise the general fund.
“You can see that current property taxes are the largest revenue source for the general fund at 40 percent. All other taxes are 22 percent. Sales and service charges are 19 percent. Miscellaneous revenues and fines and forfeitures are each six percent. Licenses and permits are five percent and intergovernmental revenue is two percent."
Under the general fund, the FY 2013 budget allows for the funding of several capital improvement projects thanks to a surplus.
“There was a beginning balance of $500,000 and an additional transfer in FY 2013 of $500,000 so there’s $1 million worth of funding for projects,” Jones said.
Some of the items slated for purchase with capital improvement funds include police vehicles, a new marshals car, a fifth first-responder vehicle for the fire department, and a tractor and backhoe for the public works department.
Jones also reported that the preliminary 2013 budget eliminates the $1 per month fuel surcharge levied for sanitation vehicles. However, that comes out in the wash as staff recommended a $1 increase in the city’s sanitation rates from $20.50 to $21.50.
The Special Revenues Fund
The special revenues portion of the budget is funded by various smaller funds including 911, SPLOST, hotel/motel, Community Development Block Grants, TAD, capital projects fund, the confiscated assets and multiple grant funds including small police funds, federal grants for fire to personnel and the donations and special fees, Jones said.
She noted that the special revenue fund is down by about 13 percent for FY 2013 over FY 2012 because two federal grants for the new fire station and the biodiesel plant were not renewed.
Water and Sewer Fund
Jones reported an 8.4 percent wholesale price increase to water and sewer costs passed on to the city by the county water authority where the city purchases its water.
The Budget Process Continues
After the presentation, the public was invited to ask questions and make comments about the budget, but no one came forward.
“The public hearing tonight it is the first part of the budget process,” said Teri Anulewicz, Ward 3 Council Representative and the city’s finance chair. “I want to emphasize the word process because that’s exactly what this is. We expect to hear from the public. We encourage comments and input from the public.”
Anulewicz noted that citizens will have another chance to come forward at the second public hearing for the budget at the Council’s June 4 meeting, but also invited citizens to contact their Council Representatives via email.
Ward 6 Council Representative Wade Lnenicka echoed Anuelwicz’s remarks.
“This is a process,” he said. “I think the Council still has a lot more discussion to do about the details of the budget. The devil is always in the details. We’ve got a lot of thrashing about the details to do before adopting the budget. But I think we can get there with our staff.”
Melleny Pritchett, Ward 1 City Council Representative, agreed.
“We do have a few items that we’re going to be tweaking and working on, but it’s almost there,” she said.