City council reviews tight budget

By Bob Buckel | Published Wednesday, August 28, 2013

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The Decatur City Council Monday approved on first reading the proposed 2013-2014 city budget, a $14,261,179 spending plan that includes a 4-percent raise for city employees.

By keeping a tight rein on hiring and capital expenditures, the new budget requires only a 1-cent property tax increase – four-tenths of a cent below the effective rate, which would bring in the same amount of revenue as last year. Sales taxes are projected to grow slightly, but most other revenue projections are flat.

Expenses are down at the airport and up slightly in the Police Department. Most other departments are flat, or down slightly.

After a planning process that began in April, Finance Director Brad Burnett presented the budget to the council in a workshop meeting Monday afternoon.

Other highlights include:

  • projected revenues of $14,261,179, including $9,059,068 in the general fund, $4,123,401 in the water and sewer fund and $1,078,710 for debt service;
  • a change in the base health insurance plan from a $500 deductible to a $1,000 deductible, with employees covering 20 percent of dependent coverage;
  • only $115,500 in capital expenditures;
  • no rate increases for water and sewer customers;
  • no new employees.

“The budget committee did a marvelous job sorting through a lot of information in order to finalize this budget,” Burnett said. “Every year we seem to fine-tune the process, and this year we had a lot of great discussions. We had two new council members on the committee, and they asked good questions. Hopefully it was a rewarding experience.”

One of those council members, Cary Bohn, said the committee “found the middle ground” on most issues.

The council meeting that followed the workshop included public hearings on the budget and tax rate, although no one was present to comment on either.

Another hearing will be held next Tuesday, Sept. 4, and after that the budget and tax rate can be adopted.

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