Jun 292012

By Tammy Gray and Linda Kor —

The Holbrook City Council approved a $10.1 million tentative budget for fiscal year 2012-13 Tuesday evening.

The budget presented to the council is up from last year’s $9.6 million budget, but down from the 2010-11 fiscal year budget of $11 million. Major increases from last year’s budget include an additional $419,008 in the general fund, which is mainly used for salaries and day-to-day operations, and a $197,077 increase in Highway User Revenue Funds (HURF). The increase in HURF projections brings the total closer to the amount actually received in the last fiscal year. City Manager Ray Alley estimated that the city would receive only $803,573 in HURF funding last year, but it will have actually received closer to $1.1 million by the end of the fiscal year. He anticipates the city receiving $1 million in the coming fiscal year.

The general fund at $4.73 million makes up the biggest chunk of the proposed budget. Utility revenues and expenditures are budgeted at $2.9 million, while grants are budgeted at $1.48 million. With HURF set at $1 million, the budget is rounded out by impound fees and expenses projected at $19,500, Judicial Collection Enhancement Funds (JCEF) at $19,000 and state Fill the Gap funds at $10,000.

The general fund accounts for 47 percent of the tentative budget; utilities, 28 percent; grants, 15 percent; and HURF, 10 percent.

The largest department increase in the general fund budget is for police services. The police department budget is increased by $58,722 over the previous fiscal year for a change of 3.56 percent. It was noted that the increase is due to additional retirement costs and salary adjustments due to personnel changes, with a slight increase made to machinery and equipment for the police department, as well as the fire department and water department, in the event that radios need to go to digital format. In addition, $175,000 was allocated for the purchase of a fire engine, “which will only occur if we are very lucky, at that price,” said Alley.

The other major increase is in the facilities and levee maintenance budget. Personnel costs related to that budget are increased by $51,161, or 62.86 percent. The general fund budget also includes $175,000 in capital funds. No capital funds were included in the 2011-12 budget.

Utility revenues and expenses are expected to decrease slightly in the coming budget year, with $2.901 million anticipated in both categories. That total is down by $120,000, or just under four percent, from the 2011-12 fiscal year.

Grant funding is expected to increase slightly, up to $1.48 million in the coming fiscal year compared to $1.45 million in the previous year.

Revenues in general are expected to increase in the coming fiscal year, with an additional $419,008 in revenues expected compared to the 2011-12 fiscal year. City sales tax, state sales tax, revenue sharing, lodger’s tax and interest earnings are all expected to increase, with city sales tax revenues to be up by $380,000, or nearly 16 percent over the previous year.

For the first time in several years the projected lodger’s tax revenues are estimated to increase by approximately $35,000, bringing it from $155,000 to $190,000. It was noted by Assistant City Manager and Finance Director Randy Sullivan that these revenues will now be listed under a lodger’s tax fund, with any remaining funds to roll over into the fund for the following year. The funding going to the Holbrook Chamber of Commerce will also be tracked in a slightly different manner. “In the past we’ve lumped all chamber of commerce funds into an events category. This next year I propose that we list line items for events so that we can run a report on those expenses,” said Sullivan.

The parks and recreation budget is also getting a boost from $325,690 last fiscal year to $385,605 in the proposed upcoming budget. The increase includes an additional $11,915 in employee costs, $44,000 in repairs and maintenance, and $3,500 for machinery and equipment.

An amount of $44,000 will be allocated for a well in Sun Valley, but Sullivan is hopeful renovations can be made instead, and wants to investigate the possibility. “We may camera both wells. If they did collapse, then we may be able to clean them up and re-case,” he said, noting that the cost to camera and re-case the wells could run as low as $6,000.

In a review of the finances for fiscal year 2012 up through May of this year, it was noted that the general fund is currently $982,151 under budget. Revenues fell short of projections as the city collected 68.9 percent of its projected revenues. The HURF fund is currently operating at a loss of $20,446 with a current fund balance of zero.

Four departments have gone over their budgets, including the parks department, golf course, fleet maintenance and the airport. Sullivan explained that the parks department exceeded budget due to the repairs and operation of the pool and summer activities. The golf course went over due to the transfer of an employee to the course. Fleet maintenance is listed as being slightly over on several operational categories and the airport is over due to a large fuel purchase. All other departments are at or below budgeted expenditures.

Alley commended Sullivan on his work in developing the new budget, calling it a realistic budget that is easy to work with. The new fiscal year for the city starts July 1. The council has until the third Monday in August to adopt a final budget for fiscal year 2012-13.

In other business, Alley informed the council that the weed abatement program remains on hold as he tries to find alternate methods of legally providing the weed killer to the public. Alley received what he called a “hand slap” by the Department of Agriculture two weeks ago when it was discovered that he was providing small bottles of weed killer to the public.

“I received a visit from the Department of Agriculture two weeks ago when the City of Show Low reported that we were rebottling Round Up and checking out the bottles to the public. I was told that we cannot do that because we need better labels with more warnings,” he said.

Alley redid the labels as he was told to do and the following week, two more reps from the department contacted him, saying that repackaging of any sort was not allowed. “I ceased the program and they took all of our records and revised labels. It’s the government taking care of us,” he said with a grin. “I take the blame on this since I created the program. I’m going to see if we can have people bring in their own bottles to re-fill but I don’t know yet. It was suggested purchasing smaller bottles from the vendor, but I have to look into the cost of that or if they even do it.”

Alley also explained that three major millings projects were completed, including the east end of Hermosa Drive, Lewis Road and the parking lot at Hunt Park. “We will be working on Blue Sage Lane, Lizitsky Park and a parking lot for the Petroglyph Park next,” he explained. The millings were provided to the city from the state from the work that was completed on Hopi Drive.

Councilman Wade Carlisle had asked Alley to look into the zoning regarding what animals are allowed within the city limits and on what size of property. It was decided that it was an issue best clarified through the Planning and Zoning Commission, and was forwarded to it for review then will be brought back to council.

Councilman Bobby Tyler asked staff members to enter into discussions with Arizona Public Service Co. regarding the vacant building across from the city offices on First Avenue. “The old APS building has been sitting there vacant for the past two to three years. I wanted to see if they would consider donating the building for a youth center,” he explained. Alley asked that the item be placed on a future agenda for discussion and said he would investigate the matter.

Mayor Jeff Hill related that he has received numerous compliments on the condition of the parks and streets in the city, and commended the city workers for being detail oriented in their work efforts in making the city look so good.

In other action June 26, the council:

* Approved applications for special event liquor licenses for Our Lady of Guadalupe Church for an event to be held at the Family Center on July 21 and for the Elks Lodge for an event to be held July 7.

* Approved an application for a liquor license requested by Pizza Hut.

* Approved a contract with Quality Ready Mix to provide concrete, slurry and ABC.