City of Aurora's general fund up about $500,000 in 2014

by KEN LAHMERS | EDITOR Published:

Aurora -- Wage increases are planned for city fire, service and clerical union employees, but none for police, non-union and part-time employees, according to the initial draft of the proposed 2014 budget.

Council kicked off the 2014 budget process at its committee of the whole meeting Dec. 2, and traditionally adopts the budget in February.

Appropriations for all funds in 2014 are estimated at $27.69 million.

"The city has taken a conservative approach when forecasting 2014 tax revenue," said Mayor James Fisher. "It will be the first year the city won't receive estate tax, which generally is in the $900,000 range."

He noted the 2014 budget is balanced and supports the needs of city operations and many residents. He lauded city leaders' efforts at managing the budget in 2013.

The proposed general fund budget will increase by 3.59 percent from 2013 to 2014. Estimated 2014 general fund appropriations are $14.32 million, compared to $13.82 million in 2013.

In accordance with their agreements, the wage increases for fire, service and clerical union workers will be 2.25 percent. No workforce additions are included in the 2014 budget.

Finance Director Bob Paul said the police department budget will increase 6 percent because of the addition of two officers and higher overtime, while the planning-zoning-building department's budget is up 8 percent because of increased inspection costs.

According to Paul, the finance department is up 7.7 percent because of increased RITA fees, real estate taxes for the golf course property and the human resources position being placed under the mayor's budget.

The general fund budget estimates the city will receive $11.5 million in income tax, about $1 million more than in 2013, with property tax revenue estimated at $1.22 million, admission taxes at $300,000, Local Government Funds at $154,000 and hotel-motel taxes at $130,000.

PAUL NOTED that income tax represents 81 percent of estimated income for the general fund, and losses of revenue in other areas has caused a greater reliance on that revenue source.

"This exerts more pressure on maintaining the general fund reserves," he said.

Paul said the city will go into 2014 with a carryover of about $7 million, compared to $6.4 million heading into 2013. One five-year estimate indicates the city will go into 2015 with a $7.22 million carryover and that will increase to $8.6 million heading into 2018.

However, if Council decides to spend money on major road and storm sewer projects in coming years, the carryover into 2018 could be as low as $3.24 million.

Mayor-elect Ann Womer Benjamin said one of her key priorities is to simplify the budget format so people can better understand it.

"The budget is too complicated," she said. "I'm also working to add money for connectivity, because I want to see this project started as Council thought would happen this year.

"Finally, in my meetings with directors, I've asked everyone to find ways to reduce their expenditures. I have some suggestions already."

Email: klahmers@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4189

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