Weatherford Democrat

June 30, 2013

Hudson Oaks City Council begins budget discussions


Weatherford Democrat

— By BRIAN SMITH



HUDSON OAKS — Interim City Administrator Patrick Lawler had the interim removed from his title after an executive session Thursday night.

Lawler began his career with the city in November 2007 as assistant to the city administrator. He then became director of operations before being named assistant city administrator in 2010. After the departure of former City Administrator Sheri Campbell-Husband, Lawler was moved into the interim city administrator position.

In other activity, the council received its first look at the Fiscal Year 2013-14 budget. According to a staff report, the city is planning on $2.12 million in general fund revenue in the 2013-14 budget year, which begins in October, and having expenditures of just under $2.1 million. The extra monies will go into the city’s fund balance.

Lawler said the city will be offering small cost of living allowances for all employees as well as merit increases of up to an additional 2 percent. Lawler said the merit increases have averaged around 1.5 percent in recent years.

The city is looking at having its revenues stay flat for the coming fiscal year. An expected 3 percent rise in sales tax is expected to be negated by a drop in building permits.

Lawler said the final budget will be submitted to council at the July 25 meeting. If there are no changes, council members can then approve the budget at their Aug. 22 or Sept. 26 meetings.

The city is also looking to purchase two new police vehicles to replace ones with between 130,000 and 140,000 miles on them. Lawler said the city was thinking of buying just one new car this year, but with the high mileage on both vehicles, determined purchasing two was better.

Lawler asked the council for direction on whether to buy the cars outright or do a lease-purchase. Doing a lease-purchase, with the low interest rates right now, would allow the city to have more flexibility in cash flow, Lawler said.

The state requires cities to keep 30 percent of their budget in a fund balance, or “rainy day” fund. Hudson Oaks reports having approximately 34 percent in its fund balance at the present time. By the end of the fiscal year in September 2013, Lawler said about 36 percent should be in the fund.

For the first time ever, the city will be offering a vacation buyback program. City employees get 240 hours of vacation every year, with many of them trying to use their time off around the holidays. Lawler said the previous “use it or lose it” policy would cause a lot of overtime late in the year, with people being brought in to work extra shifts.

Council members also held a workshop to address the city’s new tagline. Four proposals were given to help the city in its marketing and branding. The four proposals, each which came with corresponding artwork, included “Plant Your Flag,” “Branch Out,” “Deeply Rooted” and “Home Grown.”

Lawler said city staff liked deeply rooted the best. Lawler said taglines can be changed more easily than a logo and the council should consider what it would like for the next five years or so.

Council members were split between “Deeply Rooted” and “Branch Out.” After some discussion, Mayor Pat Deen asked to bring the items back next month to gather some sort of consensus.

The council’s next meeting is July 25.