When the pot is full, budgeting becomes a breeze
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
Growth, that is, in terms of valuation, leads to less budget worries and constraints.
Mt. Pleasant’s valuation grew about $7 million the past year leading to a sweat-free budget, according to city leaders.
“The budget was a lot easier to deal with because of the growth in Mt. Pleasant,” Mayor Steve Brimhall told the Mt. Pleasant City Council during its Feb. 20 meeting. “The decisions were not that difficult. We are in very good shape financially. The (budgeting) decisions were not that hard. Although we are fiscally conservative, we are able to do what we want to do.”
City Admistrator Brent Schleisman echoed Brimhall’s thoughts. “We had a nice growth in taxable valuation which made the budget process easier.”
The city council will host a public hearing on the fiscal 2014 budget during its regular meeting tomorrow (Feb. 27) night.
Mt. Pleasant’s property tax levy has not changed. The budget calls for a levy of $12.18 per $1,000 taxable valuation. However, residential property owners may see an increase in their tax bills even though the levy doesn’t change. That’s because the residential property rollback is decreasing from 49.5 percent to 52 percent. That means residences will be taxed at 52 percent of their assessed valuation in fiscal 2014, whereas in fiscal 2013 they were taxed at 49.5 percent of their assessed value.
The fiscal 2014 budget calls for expenditures of $23,346,405 and revenue of $21,457.499. The city projects a beginning fund balance (as of July 1, 2013) of $5,841,352 and a year-ending (June 30, 2014) fund balance of $3,952,446, which equals the difference between revenue and expenditures in the 2014 budget. The general fund projects a beginning balance of $1.67 millon.
For the most part, the budget is similar to last year’s document with the major difference the completion of the Washington Street project. The project’s completion is reflected in both city expenditures and revenue.
Mt. Pleasant’s taxable valuation increase will generate an additional $56,000 in property tax revenue, bringing total tax revenue to $3,351,792.
Revenues show a transfer of $50,000 from old sales tax to pay for a police car and fire department vehicle. The old sales tax revenue is from the former local option sales tax (LOST) revenue referendum which expired in 2006. After the expenditure, the account will still have roughly $88,000.
Mt. Pleasant’s revenues also reflect a $100,000 contribution from Mt. Pleasant Utilities (which is identical to what the utility has contributed in the past).
The budget shows the employee benefit levy increasing by 5 cents to $1.05.
Included in the budget are capital purchases of $77,000, a 2.5 percent salary increase for city employees, a 10-percent increase in health insurance premiums and a $200,000 allocation to repair Central Park. The reserve balance is projected to by 48 percent.
In the sales tax account, fiscal year LOST revenue is forecast at $710,000. Schleisman said the city always makes conservative revenue projections and estimates expenditures liberally. For instance the city received $780,000 in LOST revenue in fiscal 2012 and will receive $712,000 during the current fiscal year. The LOST account will have a fiscal-year (2014) beginning balance of $70,561.
Mt. Pleasant, Schleisman said, uses all of its LOST revenue for capital projects. During fiscal 2014, LOST funds will provide the match for the Grand Avenue reconstruction and airport improvement projects.
Schleisman said city staff deserves a lot of credit for keeping expenditures in line. “The staff really tries to hold the line, they do a good job of spending only what they need to. We are conservative with our revenue projections. That way, when things happen unexpectedly, we can react without having a detrimental effect on the budget.
The city’s debt-service levy shows a 6-cent reduction to $3.08 per $1,000 taxable valuation. All of the funds in debt service are used for road construction, the library/civic center, fire trucks and the Crossroads Industrial Park. Total payments will come to $1.2 million. The city’s debt limit is at 48 percent.
Regarding roads, the city will spend $100,000 for patch and repair work on city streets, $20,000 for the chip-and-seal program. Total expenditures amount to $884,922 with a beginning fund balance of $1,644,803.
“We are in great financial shape as far as our accounts and reserves go,” Schleisman observed. “I’m pleased with the budget. We accomplished all of the things the council wanted to do with minimal impact on residents. It was an easy budget to do.”