City adopts $22 million budget

By Erika Pedroza | Published Wednesday, August 28, 2013

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After years of conservative spending, Bridgeport city officials will have a little more breathing room next year.

Tuesday the city council approved a $22,424,926 budget to be funded by a 58.75 cent tax rate per $100 valuation.

“The city’s overall financial position is stronger than the previous years,” City Administrator Brandon Emmons said. “The reserves in the general fund are above established benchmarks, and the retained earnings in the proprietary funds are increasing.”

The city will be able to keep the same tax rate it has had since 2006, in part because of increased property values.

Expenditures as a share of the total budget are:

  • enterprise (water/sewer and electric) – $10,796,939 – 48.1 percent;
  • general (police, fire, parks, recreation, streets, library) – $4,863,453 – 21.7 percent;
  • EDC – $3,489,470 – 15.6 percent;
  • debt service – $1,343,335 – 6 percent;
  • airport – $882,578 – 3.97 percent;
  • internal services (fleet services, facilities, maintenance, information technology) – $631,235 – 2.8 percent;
  • special revenue – $417,916 – 1.9 percent.

The financial plan, which is almost $2 million more than last year’s, includes more than $1 million in decision packages approved this month.

Those are:

  • Fire Department: Council gave the thumbs up on $62,535 in safety measures, including $26,000 for inspections for fire trucks and equipment, as well as a database of all the inspections.
  • Police Department: Council approved the purchase of four Chevrolet Tahoes, giving better resale value, increased storage space, improved safety features and the ability to withstand the rough terrain and abuse typically experienced by police vehicles. At $40,000 each, they will replace six cars in the fleet.
  • Electric Department: The council OK’d a $50,000 contract to trim trees along the primary lines, and approved the purchase of a $49,140 mini derrick backyard machine to repair poles that cannot be accessed with current equipment. The city also instated an accounts payable/utility billing clerk position. The $41,975 expense would be split with the finance department and would take on tasks for both divisions.
  • Information Technology: The council approved several IT items including $35,000 for contract assistance to resolve computer and network issues and help the city’s IT department maintain reliable, up-to-date operations; $7,750 for a network audit to identify areas of deficiency and potential equipment failures; $34,552 to replace two six- to eight-year-old servers and update all the Microsoft licenses; $9,250 to replace 10 computers, and $5,587 to upgrade the city’s website, which has not been redesigned since 1996.

The city will also enter a 48-month lease for new copiers and laser printers, getting more equipment for $13 less and saving on the cost of toner and ink.

“This actually puts money in our budget,” Emmons said.

Also approved were:

  • $32,480 for a mounted water pump;
  • $17,998 to replace the 25-year-old carpet at the city’s library;
  • $15,444 for a part-time maintenance technician;
  • $4,000 for improvements to Lawdwin Ballfields;
  • $3,500 for cell phones for various personnel;
  • $2,450 for equipment for a prisoner work crew;
  • $2,520 for a postage machine; and
  • $1,000 for a portable credit card machine.

“It’s great that we’re able to reinstate some of the things we had to cut when we hit hard times,” McComis said.

The Bridgeport City Council has called a meeting for 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29 to issue $5.2 million in certificates of obligation for street and sidewalk improvements.

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