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City approves annual budget

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City Manager Joe Neeb presents the final budget to the City Council and staff in the large conference room at Roswell’s City Hall on Thursday evening. (Alison Penn Photo)

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The Roswell City Council unanimously approved its 2019 fiscal year (FY 19) budget of $140,729,733 at a special meeting on Thursday night.

City Manager Joe Neeb said this was a challenging year putting the budget together along with dealing with encumbrance funds from past projects and closing purchase orders. After saying that every penny is budgeted, Neeb and the council thanked the Finance Department for their work to prepare the annual balanced budget.

Councilor Grant, chairman of the finance committee, thanked the staff for their work and patience. Grant also voiced his concerns over the painful process of using Excel for the budget and the planned software update to allow for more time for staff to prepare the budget and for councilors to analyze it.

Mayor Kintigh called the meeting to order, Neeb shared an informational PowerPoint and the councilors had individualized opportunities to ask questions or give input.

The council voted on three resolutions to approve to adopt the final quarter financial report for FY 18, the year-end budget for FY 18 and adopting the final budget for FY 19. Municipal fiscal years end on June 30 and begin on July 1.

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General fund

For the general fund at $43,528,340 with $370,000 left over, Neeb said the city’s fund has been spent faster than it can be replenished. As required by the state, the city keeps 1/12 of the budget for reserves and Neeb said the council has asked to increase this amount. Neeb showed the general fund’s revenue is at 46 percent and expenses are at 54, which includes the reserve amount.

The general fund’s pie chart showed that 67 percent is allocated for personnel, 22 percent in operations and 11 percent in capital.

Neeb also said there is a small amount, if any, of capital funding in the general fund and the funds available are from grants and loans. He also said the city increased street funds to improve that infrastructure in the coming year.

Neeb said implementing the step compensation plan and coming to an agreement with the Local 51 Utility Workers of America Union and the Roswell Police Officer’s association were accomplishments in FY 19’s budget. For the Roswell Fire Department’s union, Neeb said negotiations are still in progress.

Calling it the lifeblood of city funding, he said that 48 percent of the general fund comes from gross receipts tax. Neeb said gross receipts tax is showing a positive trend, slowly and steadily. He showed a bar graph showing GRT in 2016 in the range of 28,500,000; 29,500,000 for 2017; and near 32,000,000 for 2018.

Since the city had so many capital projects like the Roswell Recreation and Aquatic Center and the Convention & Civic Center, Neeb said the budget decreased by around $20,000,000.

Personnel

Comparing FY 18 and FY 19, Neeb shared that salaries have increased due to the adoptions of compensation plan with operations increasing and capital decreasing. Neeb said implementing the step compensation plan and coming to an agreement with the Local 51 Utility Workers of America Union and the Roswell Police Officer’s association were accomplishments in FY 19’s budget. For the Roswell Fire Department’s union, Neeb said negotiations are still in progress.

From a conversation over the water department at the infrastructure committee meeting on Monday, Grant said all departments need to be analyzed regarding personnel as benefit costs are increasing. Neeb said he will continue to request resource allocation reports from all the city departments to justify the requests and keep services at the best level. Grant added that if internet sales tax for municipalities becomes routine, it would be the saving grace of the city.

Personnel is a significant part of the budgeting process and Neeb said the city has 60 open positions. Internally, he said the city had significant changes by shifting contract labor to employees. The city will be adding the following positions: human resources manager, finance administration assistant, assistant facilities maintenance manager, custodian supervisor and two groundskeepers for the South Park Cemetery.

Other questions and comments 

Councilor Henderson asked about the Yucca Center demolition and Neeb said the $400,000 was budgeted in the sanitation department’s fund.

Henderson also asked if any funds were budgeted for the Spring River Park & Zoo’s master plan adopted in March. Neeb reiterated that no extra funds are set aside for the zoo and that any improvements are included in the Parks and Recreation budget. Neeb said the zoo will succeed in partnerships with the community.

Councilor Best said the city, county and the school district need to “play in the same sandbox” and examine the cost of the funds involved in exchanged services between the county.

Other councilors asked about the softball complex, golf course, the library and museum. Mayor Kintigh asked the city staff to take down notes and have answers prepared at the Aug. 9 full City Council meeting.

Mayor Kintigh also said he would be interested in the enterprise funds regarding the smart water meters. He suggested that, after data is collected from a full year of use in FY 20, the city could examine the data to have an analysis of the revenue, personnel costs and future investment.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.