By Nick Nunn staff writer
The Madison City Council held their first budget workshop for the fiscal year (FY) 2015 budget last week, giving council members their first look at the proposed budget for 2015, which totals nearly $18,500,000. The proposed budget marks an increase of more than $2,800,000 from the city’s 2014 budget, despite a decrease of approximately $835,000 in the general fund budget. The increase in the proposed budget is largely due to loans and grants received by the city for three large projects that will be undertaken in FY 2015: the conversion of the city’s Northside wastewater treatment facility to a pump station, the storm water drainage improvements in the Canaan neighborhood, and the final build out of the city administration building at 160 North Main Street.
The latter two projects have been moved from the general fund to separate capital gains projects, where their budget totals are shown at $608,000 and approximately $1,200,000, respectively. Madison Finance Director Karen Guinn explained that those two projects were moved out of the general fund so that their expenses do not “skew” the general fund numbers.
In addition to the $835,000 decrease in the general fund in the proposed FY 2015 budget, there are increases in the gas fund and SPLOST fund of approximately $272,000 and $156,000, respectively. According to City Manager David Nunn, the increase of approximately $1,422,000 in the water and sewer fund is because of the Northside wastewater conversion project.
The total general fund revenues projected for FY 2015 are approximately $5,455,000, with “property taxes,” “other taxes,” and “other financing sources” making up more than 65 percent of the total revenues. Guinn said that transfers from other funds into the general fund comprise most of the revenue listed as “other financing sources.” The largest expected revenue increases in the general fund will be $53,000 in TAVT taxes and $100,000 in intergovernmental revenue for the Greenspace Commission Trail Grant. Guinn said that sales tax revenue should decrease approximately $24,000 “due to TAVT” taxes taking the place of sales tax from automobile sales.
Building and ground, custody of prisoners, and the street department will make up the largest portions of general fund expenditures, at 14 percent, 20 percent, and 16 percent, respectively. Building and ground expenditures are set to increase by more than $442,000 because of the city’s future purchase of the Wellington Building parking lot and a transfer to the capital gains project for the final build out of the city administration building. The expenditures for data processing will increase $89,000 because of a newly hired employee in that department, as well as the purchase of a new server for the municipal building.
The largest general fund expenditure decreases – $685,000 in buildings and grounds and $540,000 in the street department – are due to transfers into the capital gains project funds from individual departments. The police department will also have a $90,000 decrease in expenditures due to the department only having to equip one vehicle this year, as opposed to two last year, and a decrease in department salaries. Nunn also said that the city will be working on a water and sewer rate study to see if the city’s current rates need to be increased.
He said that increases keep the city ahead of the curve in terms of having the funds necessary to deal with future projects but acknowledged that “it’s tough increasing rates when you don’t have a project you’re looking at. Nunn said that rate increases could help to fund infrastructure replacements in areas where the current pipes will be in need of replacement in the coming years.