City budget has 4% more for police

By JENNIFER COHRON, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 9/29/17

CORDOVA — The Cordova City Council passed a nearly $1.3 million budget Tuesday night that includes a small increase for the police department, as well …

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City budget has 4% more for police

Posted

CORDOVA — The Cordova City Council passed a nearly $1.3 million budget Tuesday night that includes a small increase for the police department, as well as funding to complete the city’s new fire station.

The budget allocates $367,630 for the police department, which Mayor Drew Gilbert said represents a 4 percent increase from the current budget but less than the approximately $380,000 spent by the department this year.

Gilbert said additional money has been set aside for meals, supplies and utilities at the jail, which will operate with a budget of $25,500.

“We’ve really underbudgeted for our jail. We made a commitment as a council years ago that was not going to be a line item, that we’re going to arrest bad guys for being bad guys and will find the money to pay for it,” Gilbert said.

However, the department will be looking for ways to reduce inmate meal expenses, which were nearly double the $8,000 allocated in the 2016-2017 budget.

Gilbert also noted that approximately $34,000 will be available for reallocation next year when the city makes the final payment soon on three Ford vehicles purchased for the police department in 2015.

The fire department’s budget of $58,785 includes $30,000 to finish the station on School Street, which has been an ongoing project since 2015.

The city originally allocated $250,000 in insurance proceeds for the purpose of converting a former residence into a home for the fire department. In 2016, the Walker Area Community Foundation awarded $197,000 to continue the renovation.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Fire Chief Dean Harbison requested that the council consider allocating funds for the purchase of equipment in future budgets.

“A set of turnout gear is $2,500 a set. We’ve been dependent on grants to do that, and that gear only has a shelf life of 10 years. I would like to see two or three new sets a year so that it doesn’t all go out at the same time,” Harbison said.

The budget approved Tuesday night also reinstates full insurance coverage for employees in January.

In 2016, the council voted to switch from Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Gold Plan to a Silver Plan and to assume the full cost of premiums.

In August, employees chose to remain with Blue Cross and split the cost of a $13,000 premium increase with the city rather than accepting a plan from another provider.

At the time, the council was looking for ways to reduce expenses when it appeared that revenue would fall $200,000 short for the year.

On Tuesday, Gilbert announced that revenue will likely finish approximately $90,000 below projections.

Miscellaneous income, which includes grants and reimbursements, fell by approximately 50 percent this year, according to Gilbert.

Sales tax, which represents 21 percent of the city’s annual revenue, remained relatively flat, and revenue from the purchase of business licenses declined by approximately 7 percent.

The revenue projection for the upcoming fiscal year is $1,273,170 — only $15,000 more than the revenue collected this year.

Extra money for public safety and considerations for employees such as the return to full insurance coverage came from a projected 40 percent decrease in salaries through restructuring in the public works department and a 15 percent reduction in payroll expenses as a result of staffing changes.

Gilbert estimated expenses for the year to be $1,271,950.

“As a refresher, I built this budget as break-even. The numbers are pretty close together. What we don’t account for is any money in the bank when the year starts. Anything we start with is always a buffer,” Gilbert told council members.