Jun 132014

By Tammy Gray

A tentative $9.985 million budget for fiscal year 2014-15 was approved by the Holbrook City Council Tuesday evening.

The new budget year begins in July, but state law does not require adoption of a tentative budget until after that time.

Expenditures in major categories include $4.36 million in the general fund, up 10.5 percent from last year; $2.38 million for utilities, up 1.31 percent; $1.42 million in road and infrastructure repairs, up by 48.18 percent; $1.76 million in grant projects, up by .5 percent; and $46,300 in other categories such as impounds, judicial collection enhancement funds and state fill the gap monies, all of which are down from last year.

Overall, the budget is 10 percent higher than last year. The fiscal 2013-14 budget included $9.07 million in expenditures, however, Finance Director Randy Sullivan projects that a total of $6.94 million will have actually been spent by the end of the fiscal year on June 30. City Manager Ray Alley explained that the budget includes expenditures that may not necessarily be made, such as matching grant funds and contingency line items in case of emergency. Those items must be included, however, or the city cannot legally spend the money.

Some of the bigger changes between the existing budget and the one approved for the upcoming fiscal year include an anticipated increase in Highway User Revenue Funds (HURF), which will fund roadway and infrastructure repairs, and increases in Arizona State Retirement System, public safety retirement, medical, dental and vision contributions.

The department with the largest budget increase is the police department, but Alley told the council that the increase is due mainly to new fees being assessed by Navajo County for booking inmates into the jail. The county informed the city three years ago that beginning in fiscal year 2014-15 it would be charging the full rate.

“Jail costs are up and our only option is to create our own jail,” Alley told the council.

Council members approved the tentative budget, which must be finalized by August, noting that each portion of the budget was closely reviewed during a series of work sessions.

In other action June 10, the council:

* Approved streetlight operation, maintenance and rate agreements with Arizona Public Service Co. (APS).

Alley noted that the increased rates are included in the new budget, but they were not as high as he had expected.

* Approved a maintenance agreement with YESCO for the lighted marquee sign at Gillespie Park for a period of five years.

Alley told the council that the rate remains the same and he believes the city is getting a good value, because he and his staff members are not qualified to repair the computer system inside the sign, and the company has been quick to make any needed repairs, as well as maintain the lighting.

* Approved the expenditure of up to $5,679.05 for the purchase of ammunition from ProForce for the police department.

City Clerk Cher Reyes explained that ProForce is a sole source provider, but since the amount exceeded the $5,000 threshold for staff purchases, it required council approval.

The next regular city council meeting is scheduled at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 24, at city hall.