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City considers third straight tax increase
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McMinnville officials made no changes in the proposed departmental budgets for 2011-12 during Tuesday’s meeting. A possible tax increase and the fate of the first-responders program were sent to the full board.
City administrator David Rutherford says the fund balance at the end of the fiscal year will be approximately $2.4 million if the 19-cent tax increase is instituted. Without it, the fund balance is estimated at $2 million.
Two years ago, Rutherford suggested going with a 19-cent, three-year tax increase totaling 57 cents. This would be the final year for that.
“We made a commitment and I would like to see it through,” said Mayor Norman Rone.
With the city’s cash flow improving, Rutherford recommended placing $250,000 a year into a rainy day fund beginning next year. The goal for the city is to have $1 million in funds to be used only for real emergencies from natural events.
The budget also included a written narrative of recommendations from Rutherford. He suggested a 19-cent tax increase, no increase in sanitation, water/ sewer service, and beginning the rainy day fund.
Changes were also suggested for McMinnville Fire Department. This includes eliminating the first-responder program, not allowing employees to use leave time toward overtime compensation, and implementing a Volunteer/ Reserve Firefighter program.
In the proposed budget, the projected general fund balance for the end of fiscal year 2011-12 is $2 million.
“In simplest terms, the city’s cash flow problem has been minimized due to the board acting financially responsible as opposed to politically indifferent,” said Rutherford. “Staff will continue monitoring the budget and if cash balances fail to meet projections in December, then additional adjustments will be presented to the board for action in January 2012.”
“Any idea of where fuel costs are going to go?” Wood asked Rutherford.
Rutherford says it is difficult to predict the cost of fuel or electricity.
“If you believe everything you hear on TV, the prices will continue to drop. I do not,” Rutherford said. “In a couple months it will be hurricane season. All we need is a couple storms to knock a refinery out and cost will be $4 a gallon. The only thing I’m not sure of is fuel and electricity.”
In last year’s budget, it was anticipated that fuel costs and electricity would rise some 25 percent. Electricity costs rose approximately 15 percent, while fuel costs rose more than 40 percent, says Rutherford.
This year, an anticipated increase in fuel costs is set at 20 percent. It amounts to $4.25 a gallon at the pump.
When it comes to electricity, the city has reduced the number of streetlights and is considering a $23,000 lighting upgrade to replace bulbs in its facilities with energy efficiency ones.
Also, the lights on Westwood Bridge were placed by the city which eliminates the maintenance charge by McMinnville Electric System for the poles and fixtures. The same will be done on the upcoming Morford Street renovation.
Wood made a motion to send departmental budgets to the full board for its consideration, with further consideration needed for the narrative recommendations.
The motion was unanimously accepted by Finance Committee members Wood, Everett Brock and Clair Cochran.