BROOKINGS - Brookings citizens on Tuesday got their first look at the city's budget for 2013. It sets general fund spending which covers most of the city's day-to-day operations at just under $15 million.
City Manager Jeff Weldon called it an "austerity budget," noting that the proposed spending is actually about $1.9 million under this year's . While there won't be major cuts in spending, Weldon said the city will hold the line on new expenses, and city department heads have even deferred some planned projects to 2014.
For most operations, planners attempted to keep expenditures level, the city manager said, making only targeted increases to account for inflation or market-driven costs like fuel.
"Lean government," a continuing review of the costs and means of delivering services, is now part of the city's plan, Weldon told the council.
The 2013 budget is balanced $14.98 million for both general fund revenues and expenses.
Weldon and a Leadership Team consisting chiefly of city department heads began piecing together the new budget draft in May.
The council's first public review of the document, which also includes the community's five-year capital improvement plan, took place Tuesday. The councilors will continue debate and discussion on the budget items at their Aug. 28 session, and they'll adopt a final budget in September after a public hearing .
The chief reason next year's spending is significantly lower than 2012 is that capital spending this year was "unusually intense."
Projects completed, or at least initiated this year, include the new government center, the East Fire Station expansion, the remodeling of city hall as the Public Safety Center, Dakota Nature Park, the Bel Brands digester, Swiftel Center storage expansion, 25th and 32nd avenue projects and multiple drainage and retention pond projects.
Next year's capital project spending is "only slightly less ambitious" than this year's , Weldon said. Modest revenue increases
Revenue increases for the city will be modest, Weldon noted in his memo to the council . Planners are predicting only a 2 percent growth in sales tax revenue, which should give the city about $5.2 million. Despite a modest recovery from the nationwide recession, the city has not yet achieved the sales tax levels recorded in 2008.
Property taxes will bring in only slightly more money in 2013. Despite the fact that the city experienced growth amounting to more than $22.9 million, there was a major reduction in valuation in the county due to reappraisals.
City valuations were reduced by nearly $19 million, and that wiped out most of the gains from newly developed property. Tax revenues for the city will amount to about $2.6 million in 2013, less than $100,000 above last year's tally. City enterprises making City-owned operations will contribute a large share of next year's revenues. The Solid Waste Department, which includes the landfill, will transfer $525,000 into the general fund, and Brookings Municipal Utilities will transfer more than $2 million up $50,000 from last year.
The city's liquor operation will also contribute $650,000 to general fund revenues.
In keeping with a "no frills budget," Weldon told the council the city would add only one employee in the Police Department despite requests from other city departments for additional staffing. One subsidy reduced?
One major beneficiary of city funding was put on notice that, unless the council reverses the manager's suggestion, it will be getting significantly less money in future years.
While he reaffirmed his support for the Growth Partnership and the SDSU Innovation Campus, Weldon said the city needs an "exit strategy" for its funding of the project. The research park is now getting a $150,000 annual subsidy from the city, and Weldon proposed cutting that figure to $125,000 and continuing to reduce it by $25,000 annually over the next five years.
Downtown Brookings Inc. came in for some special criticism for not following through with city requests for information and completed paperwork .
The retail organization received a city subsidy of $15,000 in 2012 but failed to provide the city completed information for 2013. More information needed
Although Weldon recommended $20,000 in support for the group, several councilors suggested that the money be left out of the budget until DBI complies with city requests.
Other subsidy amounts ranged from $75,000 for the Boys & Girls Club to $192,000 for the BEDC and $420,000 for the Convention and Visitor's Bureau.
The city manager's report noted that Brookings now has about $15 million in outstanding second-penny debt, which includes the $6 million financed for the government center. Annual debt service will be about $1.78 million, down from more than $2 million in 2012. Contact Ken Curley at kcurley@ brookingsregister.com.