The City Council is scheduled to vote on the budget on July 9.
The proposed $18,061,802 general fund operating budget represents a 2 percent increase over the current budget of $17,633,349.
“It’s been 2009 since we’ve been able to give our employees a raise,” City Manager Casey Coleman said. “The city is still able to pay 100 percent on employee health insurance, with employees paying a percentage on family coverage.”
Coleman said the budget estimates about a 5 percent increase in sales tax revenues over the next year, which he said is one of the best indicators of a growing economy.
“This budget does not include an increase in the tax millage,” he said.
Only first-term District 3 Councilman Jim Watters expressed any concern about the budget.
“This budget looks OK to me and I wouldn’t have any problem voting for it,” Watters said following a Monday meeting of the City Council. “But if the revenues do start to drop off in the middle of the year, I suggest we look at the defined benefit plan that employees have versus a defined contribution plan which many private businesses have gone to. I know companies I’ve worked with in the past where employees had to pick up a portion of their health insurance premiums, even before they started paying for family coverage. The fact that the city pays 100 percent is a really good thing and I don’t want to take that away, as long as we can afford it. If revenues drop off, I suggest we look at it.”
Watters asked Coleman how the city comes us with an estimate of revenues for the budget.
“It’s our best guess, that’s what it boils down to,” Coleman said. “We go through every line item to see what it will take. What it comes down to is our best guess.”
Coleman noted that in past years, the expenses have always come in under revenues.
“For the past eight years, we’ve put money in the bank,” he said.
During Watters’ first meeting as a council member in January, he asked for a vote to amend the agenda to consider the repeal of the mayor and city council members’ retirement package, saying it wasn’t a good use of taxpayer dollars. But the council voted 3-2 against bringing the proposal up for action.
District 4 Council Member Mandy Maierhofer was more adamant Monday in her praise for city government.
“I’ve seen the economy on the other side and there’s not many CEOs who can get up in front of a group and say how wonderful their group is doing,” Maierhofer said. “I’m most grateful as a community resident and a council member that you work so hard.”
Coleman said building permit revenue has dropped from $285,000 in 2006 to only $75,000 on the current budget, due to the housing market crash.
Also included in the budget:
• No proposed increases in water rates, despite some increase in energy costs.
• Hotel-motel tax revenues of about $250,000, which helps fund the Chamber of Commerce and the Carrollton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
• City annual contribution of $230,000 to the public library and another $35,000 for library roof repairs.
• Continuation of $582,000 reimbursement from Carroll County to pay for city fire protection into areas in the county.
• Proposed water fund operating budget of $10,584,500, an increase of 2 percent over the current budget of $10,375,000.
• Proposed sanitation fund operating budget to stay the same at $3,906,000.