‘That’s a lot of money to me’City council approves budget by 5-1 vote
Washington City Council member Bob Shellmyer objected to next year’s budget increase during discussion leading up to the final vote on accepting the budget during the regular Washington City Council meeting Wednesday.
Shellmyer was the only councilor to vote against approving the budget, which passed by a 5-1 margin. No comments were made to the council during a mandated public hearing on the budget. Shellmyer said that city administrator Brent Hinson had said when starting the budget process, he was going to try to hold the 2013-14 general fund budget close to the same amount as this year. Shellmyer said that the budget is up 4.3 percent over this year’s budget.
“We were talking about holding it and we slipped 4.3 percent,” Shellmyer said. “That’s a lot of money to me.”
Hinson said that the council has reviewed the budget and he feels there are good justifications for the increases. He said that the council has had several work sessions since January where there was opportunity for people to give input on the proposed $20 million budget with $16.2 million of spending. It is required to be filed with the state by March 15.
During discussion, Shellmyer asked about the section giving payment to Washington Economic Development Group (WEDG) director Ed Raber. City administrator Brent Hinson said that the $70,982 in the budget matches the salary and benefits for Raber and the money is reimbursed to the city. He said the city provides the payment. Shellmyer and Hinson discussed where liability would fall for WEDG. Hinson explained that the city is covered if any liability came back to the city as a result of WEDG. Hinson said the way the system was set up was a policy decision that was made in 1998, before Raber was even the WEDG director.
Shellmyer said that the city is spending down close to $2 million during the next fiscal year. He said the budget showed less revenue than expenses. Hinson explained the 2009 general obligation bond money for a water tower is being spent down and $250,000 for the industrial park is being spent down, but will be reimbursed by the Tax Increment Finance fund. He also said the sewer fund is being spent down.
“We are taking a little bit of a hit in the short term and are being repaid with interest in the long term,” Hinson said.
Hinson said the city is way ahead of expectations this fiscal year in fund balances. He predicted to have at least $6 million at the end of the fiscal year. He also said the city hadn’t received spring taxes yet.
Shellmyer also clarified that the water tower was not going to be rebuilt until the following fiscal year. During the coming fiscal year, the city is going to replace the 1 million gallon ground storage facility. Hinson said there is a pressing need to replace the ground storage tank.
Hinson said expenses for the airport go up about $100,000, which is for fuel costs, which are reimbursed by revenues.
During several of the work sessions, Shellmyer had objected to several expenses, saying the city needed to save money.