By BRIAN SMITH
HUDSON OAKS — A $2.12 million general fund budget for Fiscal Year 2014 has been approved by city council members.
Two budget discussions were held in June and July with council members able to meet with City Administrator Patrick Lawler on an individual basis in early August to discuss potential changes, of which none were made. A public hearing on the budget was held Thursday before final acceptance and no one spoke on the subject.
The budget is actually about $1,700 less than last year’s projected budget. Expected revenue comes in at $2,120,254 with expenditures at $2,096,567. The $23,687 surplus will increase the fund balance to $763,157, or about 36 percent of the budget. Thirty percent of a budget is required in the fund balance by law.
Some of the expected increase in revenue comes from expected strong showing in building permit fees. Lawler said as of July, permits for 29 new homes were pulled, compared to 10 for all of last year.
Highlights of the budget include the purchase of two new police vehicles, according to Lawler. The city will then sell the other two vehicles at auction, Lawler said.
Expenses are expected to grow by four percent over last year’s budget with the bulk of that coming via an additional $41,000 being spent on roads this year. The focus of the road budget is on Oakridge Drive construction project. Lawler said how much of the road is complete will depend on the cost with the possibility of road work moving on into the FY 2015 budget.
“Engineering work will begin in October with expected construction to begin in August 2014,” Lawler said.
the city is expecting a three percent sales tax increase, or about $50,000 over last year, Lawler said. The increase is “conservative” as the city saw a four percent increase in sales tax from 2012 numbers.
In its five-year plan, Lawler says the forecast is for no ad valorem, or property, taxes. Having a five-year plan has a benefit of the city being able to recognize the need for property taxes far in advance, Lawler said.
City employees will receive a two percent cost of living allowance plus the ability to receive up to an additional two percent in merit increases, given out by department heads. A vacation buyback program is being implemented to allow employees to sell some of their vacation time.
Lawler said with the city having a small staff, overtime costs can go up when employees go on vacation and their position needs to be filled. Lawler said about half the employees are eligible, or have enough hours to sell, for the program.
The budget will go into effect Oct 1.