The city is hammering out a 2014-15 general operating budget that as of Monday stood at $44.2 million, a nearly 5 percent increase over the 2013-14 budget. But officials say they expect to fund the difference with rising revenues from building permits, sales taxes and other sources -- without raising the property tax rate.
The preliminary budget includes only three new positions – two patrol officers and a property evidence technician for the police department.
Other requests for new positions, including nine for the fire department, are not currently funded in the budget.
The budget, set for a public hearing at the Aug. 25 City Council meeting, also provides for staff merit raises of up to 3 percent.
The council and staff met last week to hone the budget, which includes $35.6 million in projected property tax revenues. That’s nearly 7 percent over the 2013-14 budget’s property taxes revenues and mirrors a similar rise in the city’s overall taxable value, now at $4.97 billion, said Finance Director Peter Phillis.
“The city’s budget is a reflection of a healthy economy and a healthy community,” said Phillis said.
The city’s tax and fee revenues have been on the rise since bottoming out in the recession of 2008.
Sales tax revenues are projected to increase 3 percent to about $9 million in the 2014-15 fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1. Fee revenues from city building permits are estimated to increase 8 percent $1.4 million.
The preliminary budget also provides $1.7 million for capital projects, including:
$662,000 to buy 10 new police patrol cars, including eight replacement cars; a pickup and stock trailer for the animal control center, a command vehicle for the fire department; and cardiac monitors and other emergency equipment.
$250,000 to expand the library’s parking lot and upgrade the interior with new carpeting, additional shelving and other improvements
$200,000 to upgrade the audio-visual equipment in the City Council chamber.
$90,000 for next year’s celebration of the city’s 125th anniversary.
The city plans to commit to keeping the same tax rate for next year – 71 cents per $100 of assessed property value – in a required advertisement that will be placed next week, Phillis said.
The second public hearing is set for Sept. 2 at the council chamber, 1200 E. Broad St. The council will vote on the budget and tax rate Sept. 8, 9 and 10.