Aug 012014

By Tammy Gray

A $9.9 million final budget for fiscal year 2014-15 was approved by the Holbrook City Council during a special meeting Tuesday evening.

The final budget is nearly the same as the tentative budget approved by the council in June, but contains several significant changes from the prior fiscal year, including an additional $900,000 in potential spending.

In 2013-14, the total budget was $9 million. Of that amount, the city actually spent approximately $7.5 million. The increased budget for the current fiscal year includes $500,000 in contingency funds that may be put toward street and infrastructure projects, an increase in insurance costs of 6.7 percent that the city is absorbing on behalf of the employees and increases in mandatory retirement contributions. In addition, the budget sets aside an additional $5,000 each for safety certifications and police department technical support.

Council members unanimously approved the budget with little discussion.

City Manager Ray Alley noted that the budget was essentially the same one already approved by the council in June.

“It’s a solid budget,” noted Mayor Jeff Hill.

Of the $9.9 million, approximately $4.3 million is designated for the general fund, and will be used to pay salaries and benefits for employees, maintenance and upkeep of city facilities, computer and software systems, and everyday supplies and tools. A total of $2.4 million is designated for the utility system, which covers the expense of operating and maintaining the city’s water and wastewater systems. Grant projects total $1.7 million, and road projects funded by Highway User Revenue Funds (HURF) total $1.4 million. Smaller expenditures that make up the remainder of the planned expenditures include other miscellaneous services, such as funding the municipal court.

The city’s police and fire departments will receive the largest budget increases based on percent of increase. Alley previously explained that the majority of the increase in the police department budget is to cover booking fees at the county jail, which the county increased significantly this year. The fire department budget includes new equipment to replace outdated items.

Most city departments will see a small increase in budgeted expenditures, mainly due to the increased cost of insurance and retirement benefits. The city council budget, as well as the golf course, levee and fleet management budgets, includes a slight decrease. Overall, general fund expenditures are up by 9.3 percent compared to last year.

To support the increased expenditures, the city anticipates taking in 11.7 percent more in revenues than it anticipated last fiscal year, for a total of $9,985,884 in revenue. The city ended the 2013-14 fiscal year with approximately $1.7 million less in revenue than budgeted. Alley previously told the council that expenditures are not made until revenue is received to keep the budget balanced. In addition, any potential revenue such as grant funding must be included in the initial budget or it cannot be spent if received.