City of Craig ended 2003 with higher-than-expected revenues

The city of Craig finished out 2003 on a healthy financial note. Revenues were higher than expected and expenses lower, allowing the city to maintain a three-month operating reserve and carry forward money to take the city through lean times.

City Finance Director Bruce Nelson gave the Craig City Council the city's year-end financial report Tuesday night to nods of approval at the staff's ability to budget and keep expenses down.

"Actually, it's a pretty good year-end report that we have," Nelson said.

The city's 2003 budget was a "no-growth budget." Department heads were asked to keep spending in line with 2002 numbers.

City Manager Jim Ferree said the city estimated revenues conservatively, with little growth to cover for inflation in operational costs.

His expectations were exceeded.

The city's revenue from its portion of a countywide sales tax was up 2.69 percent, an increase of nearly $24,000.

The city's main source of revenue is sales tax.

Revenues from the 2.25 percent sales tax the city collects increased 5.38 percent, generating $126,298.92.

Most other city revenue sources showed an increase. Nelson said building permits and mineral lease fees were two areas that showed significant jumps.

The city's enterprise funds -- water, wastewater and solid waste -- ended the year with cash in reserve, despite the fact that fees didn't quite keep past with last year's income. Enterprise funds are self-supporing. The services are supported by the fees they collect.

"They have a healthy bottom line and that's what we look at," Nelson said.

Revenues from water sales were off by $21,554.06 and those from sewer fees were down $24,077.85.

The city overbudgeted revenues in 2002, Nelson said. Water and sewer rates were increased in March, but the city budgeted to receive that additional funding all year long.

In the solid waste fund, revenues were up from trash collection fees by $48,123.84, but expenses were up as well. That revenue didn't quite cover the increase in landfill fees. It was short $22,445.51.

The solid waste fund still ended the year with approximately a $400,000 reserve.

"Overall revenue came in higher than we thought it would and expenditures were down." Ferree said.

"Which is a good thing," Councilor Bill Johnston said.

In other business, the council:

  • Renewed a hotel and restaurant liquor license for Carelli's, Inc.
  • Set a public hearing for March 23 to consider issuing a conditional use permit for a co-op boutique at 2435 E. Victory Way.
  • Awarded a bid for a three-quarter ton, four-wheel drive pickup to Craig Ford for $14,859.73 and one to Victory Motors for $18,402. The total's include the trade-in value of two other pickups.
  • Approved a contract with Bechtolt Engineering for $35,606.49 for a safety Improvement study and access control plan for the areas bordering the two state highways that run through Craig. The study will help the city determine where new curb cuts can be safely made along Victory Way without disturbing the flow of traffic. The study will also include suggestions for improvements that can be made currently, such as installing a traffic-directing median between Safeway and the Kmart entrance to keep drivers from turning left or going straight. The study is expected to take seven months to complete. Traffic counts should begin in April.
  • Approved a resolution appropriating additional funds in the solid waste fund to defray expenses in excess of the amounts budgeted for landfill fees. City officials said this was a housekeeping move. They're not allowed to go over a budgeted expenditure amount and not enough funds were appropriated for landfill fees. The move doesn't change the fund's budget and adequate reserves are in place to handle the change.
  • Approved the first reading of an ordinance to carry over budgeted 2003 projects or commitments to the 2004 budget. These projects or purchases were not accomplished in 2003.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, Ext. 210 or by e-mail to ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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