Council approves budget in record time, OKs CIP
The City Council spent less than an hour Friday discussing the details in 2014-2015 budget, indicating members were ready to submit the preliminary document to citizens for public comment, then vote to approve the budget that will guide city expenditures for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
The discussion took place during a special meeting that also included the final proposal for the 2015 Capital Improvements Program (CIP), an 11-year, seven-eighths-percent sales tax that will be submitted to city voters Aug. 26.
The most surprising thing about the meeting may have been its brevity: After splitting on the details of the CIP at Tuesday's regular council meeting, the group unanimously voted Friday to back the $100.9 million proposal, whose documentation is expected to be brought back to the council for a final vote June 10. Before that CIP vote, council members indicated they were ready to approve the balanced 2014-2015 budget as presented by City Manager Bryan Long and Finance Director Brooks Mitchell after the men outlined the highlights.
That decision marks a departure from the traditional budgeting process, in which the council sets a series of meetings to listen to department heads highlight their budgets, then ask questions and make suggestions about expenditures. Long said the council didn't need a protracted series of workshops this year because the staff-presented document is balanced and because it basically reflects what city staff has had to do this year to balance expenditures against revenues.
"It took longer than it should have," he said of the excess work needed to craft this year's budget, work that was taking place while administrators and council members designed the 2015 CIP.
Total expenditures, which include the operating budget, capital improvements programs, judgments and bond payments, are projected to be $192,028 more than what city staff expects in actual expenditures this year, or $159,440,891 for 2014-2015, versus $159,248,863 for this year. Expenditures for the city's divisions (the operating budget) is projected at $89,397,011 for 2014-2015, versus $85,011,067 expected this year.