MONROE – During the city’s budget presentation for fiscal 2012-13 in May, the city council learned the elimination of 21 positions could help the city pay down its $3.8 million deficit.
The city implemented a hiring freeze during the deficit to see if the city could eliminate 21 positions. In the proposed 2012-13 budget, those eliminations have been made without having to lay off employees.
The eliminated positions would save the city $1.4 million.
Positions that could be eliminated include a part-time administrator, reduction in overtime and travel expenses, five vacant police positions and a vacant accreditation manager position, six part-time firefighter positions (two of which are vacant), two full-time firefighter positions, assistant fire marshal, vacant senior construction inspector, director of parks and administration facilities (duties will be carried out by a reorganization of the department), city planner, airport manager and administrative assistant.
Additionally, City Manager Wayne Herron proposed reducing the street paving budget, health benefit program and 401k pension contributions, eliminating the subsidy for downtown trash pickup and additional Christmas decorations.
Herron said these cuts will eliminate the need for mandatory furloughs for the city’s remaining employees and will help keep the tax rate at 55 cents per $100 of assessed property value.
Additionally, the city could give a one-time merit bonus to employees based on an average of their performance appraisal scores from the last three years, which is how long its been since any employee received a merit raise or bonus.
Early retirement incentives also have been offered to help reduce further costs.
The proposed budget also includes a 2.3 percent increase in the city’s water and sewer rates.
“The required increases have been reduced due to slow growth, improved preventive maintenance and line replacements,” Herron said during the budget presentation.
He said the increase also will help save funds for three major capital projects: Stewart Creek basin upgrades, which are under way now, Bearskin Creek and wastewater treatment plant upgrades in 2018.
Herron said the city’s electric rates are anticipated to increase a minimum of 6.1 percent, but no increase is proposed for natural gas rates.
The total budget for 2012-13 is proposed at $28.7 million. The revenues break down as such: 65 percent from property taxes, 13 percent from state sales tax, 9 percent from the state franchise tax and the rest is from various taxes and licenses, permits, fees and state Powell Bill Funds.
On the expense side, 30.2 percent of the budget is set aside for police, 21.3 percent for fire, 15.1 percent for general government, 10.7 percent for parks and recreation, 9 percent for streets, 5.7 percent for debt service, 6.2 percent for airport subsidy, 1.2 percent for downtown subsidy and .7 percent for contributions and self insurance.
The public hearing on the budget was held May 13 and the city council will vote on the budget during their meeting in June.