Carthage City Council members put their stamp of approval on a city budget that spends $10,669,000 in the fiscal year that starts on July 1, a 4.9 percent decrease from the past year.
Carthage City Administrator Tom Short said spending in the general fund, which finances most city services and personnel costs, is down by about $200,000 from $8.2 million to just under $8 million compared to last year, despite projected increases of 10 to 15 percent in costs for health insurance for employees, workers compensation insurance and retirement plans.
“The general fund budget overall is basically a status quo budget,” Short told the council. “We're looking at revenues of $7.6 million and expenditures of $7.9 million, and dipping into the fund balance for about $330,000. We have a slight increase in revenues projected for next year, 1.78 percent, but those were eaten up, pretty much, by the increases in personnel costs in the budget.”
Short said the overall decrease in city spending was primarily the result of a $500,000 drop in spending on capital projects and purchases.
The city will spend $1.2 million on capital projects and purchases, down from $1.7 million last year.
Short said revenues are increasing, but at less than the rate of inflation, while spending is increasing at a rate that is faster than the rate of inflation.
“We're maintaining core service levels and we are emphasizing more structural and construction items in the parks and more maintenance in the parks,” Short said. “We're also looking at doing a number of parks projects next year out of the parks/storm water fund, some asphalting out at the parks, some work at Griggs Park and work at other parks.”
The council approved the spending plan unanimously, the culmination of a budget process that began almost six months ago.
In other business, the council gave final approval to a plan to increase rates at the Carthage Municipal Golf Course.
Under the new fee structure, for example, the cost to play 18 holes from Monday-Thursday would rise from $17 to $19 and the cost to play that same 18 holes on Friday, Saturday or Sunday would rise from $19 to $21. Fees to play nine holes would go up from $11 to $12 on Monday-Thursday and from $13.50 to $15 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Most other fees will go up a similar percentage. The fee increase takes affect on July 1.
Council members also approved using the investment firm of D.A. Davidson to refinance a $1.75 million certificate of participation dating to 2005.
Tom Kaliko, with Springstead Inc., the city's financial advisor, said the city would save about $141,000 in interest based on interest rates on Monday, but rates are changing daily and completing the refinancing could take as long as two months, so determining exactly how much the city would save was impossible.
Page 2 of 2 - Kaliko said D.A. Davidson was chosen from four bidders on the refinancing because of their experience with these kinds of municipal refinancing projects. They also had the lowest cost, or underwriter's compensation, at $6,934, compared to $8,336 for George K. Baum, the next lowest firm in the bidding process.