By DAVID GREEN
With state revenue expected to fall by $45,000 in the next fiscal year, Morenci city council plans to trim about $39,000 in spending in the 2010-11 budget, compared to the current year.
As presented Monday at a public hearing, total spending is pegged at $3.2 million with a projected contingency fund of $54,711 in the general fund. Total spending will climb considerably over last year due to the parking lot project with nearly $600,000 arriving through a Community Development Block Grant (ICE grant).
In addition to a decline in state revenue, property taxes are also expected to fall in the next year based on an estimate provided by the county equalization department.
City administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder noted an increase in recycling income due to a $3,000 donation from Seneca Township toward the city’s recycling center.
Fire protection revenue will fall by $2,600 because the fee charged the townships is based on the Consumer Price Index which decreased last year.
Health insurance costs increased by $18,500 among city hall employees, Schroeder explained, because some workers are choosing to join the city’s insurance plan rather than taking a cash payment to opt out of coverage.
Salary increases range from 1.5 percent to 3 percent.
The police budget shows an overall decrease in funding of $800, but spending includes hiring a part-time worker for clerical help.
The recycling and brush collection fund shows a decrease of $43,000, but this is because a large sum is being shifted to a fund separate from the general fund.
DPW spending includes a snow pusher and underbody scraper, along with budgeting for the east side water tower. The $200,000 cost could be spread out over five years.
Repair of Whitney Street will be considered if a good paving price is obtained in conjunction with the parking lot project.
Council is seeking a transfer of $6,600 from the library’s savings account into the general fund to meet the library’s portion of the budget.
The park budget includes $5,170 for an upgrade to the five-year recreation plan and a donation of $1,600 will be given to the county commissioners to support the OMNI drug investigation program. The commissioners request a dollar per capita ($2,398), but council went with a smaller amount due to limited finances.
The Morenci Area EMS fund shows expected decreases of about $30,000 due to declines in Medicare and insurance payments, but it will be bolstered by $18,000 with approval of a 10 percent increase in assessments in the townships and city. Overall, the EMS budget shows a decrease of nearly $11,000.
No comment from the public was made during the hearing.
Schroeder noted that council still has two weeks to make changes to the budget before final approval at the May 24 meeting. The finance and legal committee will meet one more time before then.
BILLING—Discussion at the committee level is planned regarding sewer and water charges made to property where a structure is no longer standing.
A proposed change would eliminate charges when the structure is gone and the connections to the city lines are capped.
The committee will discuss how much should be charged if the property were developed again in the future. There would be no need to make new taps, but the DPW would be required to assist in arranging for connections with the city’s service.
FLAGS—The Morenci Kiwanis Club was given permission to post two flags at the entrance to Oak Grove Cemetery on five holidays. The flags would be part of the club’s fund-raising project in which flags are flown at the residences of subscribers.
EMPLOYEE—Joe Baugh was hired as a temporary part-time DPW worker.
MUSIC—The Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce is seeking permission to play music downtown from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the summer.
The request was tabled to see if any response comes from people living in downtown apartments.
One complaint was received about the music played continually during the Christmas holiday season.