Editor:

Ever since the city announced that we are reducing the City’s primary and secondary property tax rate for 2020/2021, we get the question, “How can you do that with the impacts of COVID-19?” Most cities and maybe counties will keep the same rate, increase the rate or layoff employees.

The city manager, Mayor Price, Council Member Manfredi and I (a budget subcommittee of the city council) met to discuss the details. This is still to be approved by the entire city council in a May/June city council meeting, but here’s how we can do this.

The City will continue its practice of conservative budgeting with planned contingencies should revenues fall short of expectations to include:

  • COVID-19 Contingency Fund against lost revenues
  • Budget contingencies in place against reduction in revenues to include part-time (seasonal) personnel reductions, and deferment of new position allocations, HURF-related projects, and new vehicles and equipment purchases until revenues stabilize
  • Capital projects and equipment will be prioritized based on public safety and economic/job generation needs. Projects that are fully funded (cash on hand) without reliance on the use of general funds can go forward. These projects will keep people employed and bolster the local economy. All other projects will be evaluated based on revenue stabilization.
  • If necessary, reliance on the Catastrophic & Budget Stabilization Reserve that was established in FY 2020.

Although the projected budget for FY 2021 does not anticipate the use of reserve funds to balance this budget, the City has sufficient reserves to whether any short-term fiscal impact.

Therefore, certain projects, capital equipment purchases and new hires may be deferred until revenue stabilization is confirmed. A list of these expenditures will be produced prior to the end of this fiscal year. The City Manager’s office will be the sole determination as to when these expenditures will be green-lighted. Please note that planned contingencies do not include furloughs or layoffs of any full-time or permanent part-time personnel as there will not be any.

This can be achieved when government leadership lives within its means!

Vice Mayor Nancy Smith

City Council candidate

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