Weatherford Democrat

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April 25, 2013

Red ink leads to Willow Park cuts

(Continued)

During his examination of the budget in recent months, the city’s new administrator said he found that after removing many of the one-time transfers, there were structural deficits in the general fund and water and wastewater funds.

“They haven’t covered their own costs,” Shaffstall told the council.

Those operational deficits need to be addressed in the next budget, through things such as the fee schedule, according to Shaffstall.

Various things have contributed to the situation, Shaffstall said.

The water fund has carried the weight from other funds, such as covering the cost of all utility billing including for wastewater and solid waste and paid all public works employees, who also work on the roads.

Other budget issues being addressed include reducing employee comp time.

Even after the various cuts made in the amended budget, the projected operational deficits are expected to be $226,000 in the general fund, $281,000 in the water fund and $32,000 in the wastewater fund.

The amended budget is organized differently and contains more detail on line items.

The goal is to move towards more transparency on the budget so residents can see where money is being spent, Shaffstall said.

One of the other differences in the amended version is a $3,000 drive-through drop box for utility payments at city hall that was requested by residents, Shaffstall said.

A public hearing on the current budget amendment is scheduled for May 14.

In June, the city intends to hold a town hall meeting and invite the public to provide input on what they want to see in the 2013-14 budget, Shaffstall said.

In July, the city will have revenue estimates and hold council workshops on the preliminary budget before final adoption of the budget in late August or early September.

The city’s top goals for the upcoming budget will be to close the operational deficits and truly balance the budget, include merit-based performance pay for employees and specify a list of capital improvement projects the city will complete, Shaffstall said.

Most city employees have not had a wage increase in about two years and the new employee manual calls for merit-based raises and individual performance reviews, according to Shaffstall.

After prioritizing various types of capital improvement projects, such as roads or sewer projects, the city will include as many as they can afford in the budget, Shaffstall said.

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