Aurora budget for 2013 grows only 1/2 percent

by Ken Lahmers | EDITOR Published:

Aurora -- City officials said they see no financial problems in the near future after Council initially reviewed the 2013 budget on Nov. 29.

The initial review on a weeknight took about two hours instead of the several hours on a Saturday that past budget hearings have taken.

The proposed overall budget will increase about a half percent over the 2012 amount. Appropriations for all funds are estimated at $24.6 million, with $13.4 million in the general fund.

Officials said they foresee no staff layoffs, possibly only one workforce addition and no retirements that would impact city services.

"It's a good budget, and will keep us in fairly good financial shape," said Mayor James Fisher. "Our tax revenue looks pretty stable, and that's somewhat comforting."

Fisher noted enterprise funds are one area where Council could boost revenue if necessary; water and sewer rates and parks/recreation program fees could be increased.

He suggested Council may want to discuss that possibility in the future, but it would not be an immediate priority.

"I think we're being cautionary with spending. Other cities would be envious to be in our financial condition," added Councilman John Kudley.

The general fund budget estimates the city will receive $10.45 million in income tax, with the second highest source being property tax at $1.22 million, and estate tax accounting for $300,000 and local government funds for $190,000.

Finance Director Bob Paul said estate tax and net profits are two areas that can vary widely from year to year. Net profits could decrease by $1 million in a year in tough economic times, he noted.

THE CITY will go into 2013 with a carryover of $6.4 million, according to Paul.

The breakdown of various departments' budgets in the general fund are: Police, $4.3 million; fire, $2.25 million; service, $2.18 million; finance, $966,000; planning-zoning-building, $616,000; mayor, $296,000; engineering, $222,000; legal, $393,000; legislative, $297,000; and civil service, $16,000.

The city expects to add $1.67 million to the general fund in transfers.

Other funds are broken down as follows: bond retirement, $762,000; special assessments, $60,000; special revenue, $3 million; capital improvement, $1.25 million; enterprise, $7.26 million; and rust and agency, $505,000.

Parks and recreation is one department listed under enterprise funds, and its budget is listed at $1.39 million. Other major enterprise funds are water, $2.41 million; sewer, $1.66 million; sewer capital, $956,000; and water capital, $915,000.

The budget calls for police, fire, clerical and service employees to receive 2.25 percent raises for the year.

The one additional employee which would be added could be an administrative assistant for the mayor. Council now is considering adding that position, which was eliminated more than a year ago.

As for the outlook for the next five years, Paul said city finances are close to maximum levels of residential service, and if major projects are to be tackled, officials will have to "work harder in economic development or utilize tax assessments."

Council is currently considering transferring $500,000 to a new medical reserve fund and up to $1 million to the capital improvement fund for future use to be determined by Council.

Email: klahmers@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4189

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