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Outgoing Morris council approves budget

Includes more projects than will be tackled

Published: Thursday, May 2, 2013 8:50 a.m. CST

In the last meeting of the 2012-2013 fiscal year, the Morris City Council approved the next year’s budget, with new expenditures for the police department, including the addition of another deputy chief.

The budget was approved unanimously with Aldermen Randy Larson and Barry Aldrich absent. The meeting was held Wednesday morning because May 1 is the start of the new fiscal year.

The council will meet again at 7 p.m. Monday, May 6.

The fiscal year ended with just under $28.8 million as cash balance; it was estimated last year the city would end with almost $21.3 million. The city ended up with more cash on hand because the city budgets for many projects knowing it cannot complete all of them, said Mayor Richard Kopczick.

When projects are not done, the budgeted money carries over into the next fiscal year, said Kopczick. Budgeting for possible projects is why the city’s budget looks like the expenditures are higher than the revenues, but the city will never do all the projects in one year, so its expenditures always end up being less.

This fiscal year’s estimated revenues are about $23.5 million, expenditures almost $31 million, and expected cash balance at about $21.3 million. The General Fund specifically has estimated revenues of about $8.6 million and expenditures of $7.9 million.

In the police department’s portion of the General Fund, expenditures by the end of the fiscal year are expected to be at $3.2 million. Included in this is salaries for two deputy chiefs for the police department, totaling $172,010 for both.

Currently Chief Brent Dite has one deputy chief, Harvey Van Cleave. Dite said Wednesday afternoon he hopes to promote one of his staff to the new position in the near future.

The city has an ordinance allowing for the police department to have two deputy chiefs, said Kopczick, and Dite requested the second be put in the budget this year.

In addition, the police department also has an increase in its expenditures for patrol officer salaries. This is to allocate funding for the possibility of hiring two more patrol officers, said Kopczick.

In 2007, the city had 26 officers, but it has since gotten as low as 22 with officers retiring or taking other jobs. Two more have been hired, bringing it to 24, and the plan is to get back to 26.

There is also $100,000 budgeted for vehicle purchases, he said. The police department is in need of three squad vehicles.

There are increases in budgeted expenditures for other funds as well. In the new pool’s first full year of operation, the city has budgeted about $15,000 more than it had last year for expenses.

The street and alley department’s budget allocates an increase in line items for buildings service and equipment purchase. The roof of the public works building needs to be recoated, which is estimated to cost $35,000, and $55,000 is budgeted for a new one-ton dump truck that needs to be purchased, said Kopczick.

In the Municipal Building Fund, $60,000 is budgeted for expenses, including $50,000 for improvements or repairs, $2,500 in engineering costs, and $1,500 for other professional services.

“I thought this building was done,”said Don Matteson during the budget hearing. He spoke during the hearing held before his swearing in as alderman for the Third Ward. Matteson is a previous alderman for the city who ran for election again and won April 9.

Kopczick explained the building is done, but like a home, it needs to be taken care of with ongoing maintenance and unexpected repairs. He said last year the city had to unexpectedly fix a heating and air conditioning unit on the roof that was no longer under warranty.

“The dollars are in there in case something comes up,” said Kopczick to Matteson. “You spent four years on this council. You know we put money in that does not always get spent.”

The mayor pointed out that, in the building fund, $2,500 was budgeted last fiscal year for engineering and nothing was spent; $5,000 for legal service and nothing was spent; and $5,000 for other professional services, and only $310 was spent.

The Garbage Fund will see a slight increase in revenues of less than $20,000 from an increase in garbage fees. Through the city’s contract with Allied Waste, the garbage fee will increase slightly, said Kopczick.

Single-family residences will see an increase of $7.20 a year, which equates to 60 cents a month. It is $6 a year for facilities with more than 100 units, or 50 cents a month; and $4.20 a year for multifamily homes, or 35 cents a month.

Kopczick also told the council the Tax Increment Financing district fund is taking a hit due to the state sales tax program ending.

The state matching program was for sales tax dollars generated in the Tax Increment Financing district.

A TIF District freezes the assessed value of properties in the district. Any tax money generated from increases in value of those properties then goes into a special fund to be used to improve properties in the district.

When the city participated it was required to contribute to the TIF fund and then the state would match the contribution, which was usually more than the city contributed. This program has now ended, said the mayor.

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