City budget tops $13 million |

City budget tops $13 million

Due to flat revenues, city to use savings to cover increase in expenditures

Nearly $13.3 million dollars will come in and out of city coffers next year. At least that’s what officials are projecting.

The recently approved 2005 City of Craig budget estimates general fund expenditures at $7,423,805 and other funds at $5,797,200.

The general fund pays for city administration, municipal courts, finance, planning, police and parks and recreation. Other funds include enterprise funds such as the water, wastewater and solid waste funds. Enterprise funds are those in which fees collected, not taxes, cover all expenses.

The city will start 2005 with a balance of $1,123,375 and add an estimated $6,434,310 in revenues in its general fund.

The city runs primarily on the 2.25 percent sales tax, which makes up nearly 38 percent of the city’s revenue. The city also gets a portion of the 2 percent sales tax collected countywide, which contributes nearly 14 percent of the city’s revenue. An 18.996 mill levy nets the city $819,100 — or nearly 13 percent of its general fund revenue. The mill levy rate includes 2 mills for capital projects. Those two mills generate $96,400 for drainage, curbs and gutters.

The mill levy rate hasn’t changed for more than 10 years and can’t be changed without voter approval, according to state law.

General fund expenditures are up $636,202 from 2004 while revenues are predicted to stay flat. Savings made this year — projects that weren’t completed or came in under budget — will fund the difference, giving the city a $133,880 cushion while maintaining a 25 percent reserve in all funds.

The biggest increase comes in Road and Bridge Department spending. The budget increased $173,754, which is almost the cost of a new dump truck. City officials are hoping a grant will cover a portion of the purchase. The Road and Bridge Department’s budget is $1,182,105.

The city’s biggest general fund expense is the Police Department at more than $2.3 million, up almost $100,000 over last year. The increase is difficult to attribute to one single item. The department will increase spending in personnel — meeting the 4 percent cost-of-living wage increase approved for all employees — worker’s compensation insurance, advertising and professional services.

“I’d love to see sales tax revenue go the other way, but we’re able to keep the roads plowed and the weeds cut and give employees a decent raise,” Craig City Council member Don Jones said.

Despite requests that the city increase its funding for the regional bus system, the Moffat County Human Resources Council and the Yampa Valley Regional Airport flight subsidy program, the city held the line, funding each request at the 2004 level.

Department heads suffered some losses in their plans for 2005. A $5,000 laminator that would be used to make employee identification cards was cut and the Finance Department will have to seek grant funds for a software upgrade.

The Parks and Recreation Department lost out on a request to place a drinking fountain at the Lincoln Street tennis courts that included a ground-level basin for dogs. Residents also won’t see new Christmas decorations at least for another year after the council decided to shave the $3,000 expenditure.

No positions were added or cut, although the Craig Police Department does have one extra person on staff. The department hired a replacement for Officer Brian Soper when he was deployed to Iraq but held his position for his return.

Now that he’s back, the department will have an additional employee until someone leaves. “As long as we don’t cut public services, we’re fine and we didn’t have to do that,” Councilor Joe Herod said. “As a City Council member, I really happy to see how department heads work together to get things done.”

Herod said department heads are taking the money they’re given and spending it wisely.

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