|Inside Lebanon City Budget|
|Thursday, April 17, 2008|
Lebanon City Council is currently dealing with the same problems everyone faces at budget time.
First, the council has to know what the city is obligated to pay out, and that’s what they told City Commissioner of Finance Russell Lee at their work session Wednesday night.
The councilors asked Lee to return a “stripped budget” to them before their next work session set for 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 23 at City Hall.
His working budget, which he called a “status quo budget,” included all the amounts budgeted for construction and capital purchases from the 2007-2008 budget plus added costs for salary step-increases and insurance cost hikes. According to Lee, this budget revealed a $1.675 million shortfall.
Ward 1 Councilor Alex Buehler and Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Huddleston expressed some confusion about what should be in this budget as opposed what was included at this point.
The printed version included appendices which detailed what various departments wanted in capital purchases for the upcoming year, while Lee’s status quo budget allowed the same budget for each department they had in the 2007-2008 budget and all the construction budget from the past year as well.
Mayor Don Fox and the council told Lee they wanted a budget with, as Ward 6 Councilor Kathy Warmath called, “all the capital amounts combed out.”
This would allow the council to decide what the city can afford to add back into the budget.
“We want a balanced budget,” Ward 3 Councilor William Farmer noted.
Fox agreed, “Once we get all the outlay to the side, we may not even have a deficit,” he said.
The council members did an informal “combing” of their own and found more than $1 million in capital outlays, which may or may not need to be part of the proposed 2008-2009 budget. Warmath then told Lee he’d received a windfall.
At the next budget work session council plans to look at a cleaned-out budget after Lee eliminates amounts already spent last year and then sees what can be added in from this year’s departmental “wish lists.”
“We need to start with salaries, and insurance costs,” Farmer said.
And as the mayor pointed out, that didn’t include construction projects which have already been completed and the bills paid.
The intention is to have a final budget ready for first reading before the council by June 2, with the third and final reading coming two weeks later.