Friday, December 13, 2013
By Keith Edwards firstname.lastname@example.org
AUGUSTA — City councilors will consider plugging a half-million-dollar gap in the current year's budget created by a reduction in state revenue sharing by tapping into the city's surplus funds Thursday.
Ralph St. Pierre, assistant city manager and finance director, recommends using $525,000 from the city's unassigned fund balance to close the gap left when the city received $525,000 less in state revenue sharing from the state budget. The unassigned fund is made up of surplus funds from savings and revenues from multiple areas.
Surplus funds in the account total more than $6 million, leaving some $2 million available beyond the $4.3 million amount the city's auditor recommends be kept on hand in the surplus, or "rainy day" fund to be used for emergencies and other unforeseen expenses.
When city councilors approved the $23.6 million city budget in June, they knew there was a good chance state revenue sharing would be cut. At the time, City Manager William Bridgeo suggested if that were to occur, he probably would recommend that the city make up for the cut by taking from the fund balance.
"We'll be going in to fiscal year 2014-2015 with shortfalls, thanks to our folks in the Legislature and the governor's mansion raiding that revenue sharing," City Councilor Michael Byron said last week when councilors discussed the proposal they could vote on this Thursday. "We have, thanks to good financial management, the financial flexibility to deal with these very horrific numbers, red numbers."
St. Pierre said the fund balance was built up in part from higher-than-expected revenue, including $107,000 in ambulance fees, $75,000 in motor vehicle excise taxes, $70,000 in street opening permits, and lower than expected expenses including $187,000 in snow removal, $122,000 in the police department, and $109,000 in retirement and insurance costs.
Councilors will consider using the $525,000 from unassigned fund balance at their meeting Thursday, which begins at 7 p.m. in council chambers at Augusta City Center.
Councilors are also scheduled to:
• consider a final vote on a request from the state Department of Transportation to rezone land off Industrial Drive, as recommended by the Planning Board. The change could allow the transportation department to move its heavy equipment and fleet vehicle maintenance operations from Capitol Street to an Industrial Drive site it hopes to combine with an adjacent lot at 19 Meadow Brook Drive and;
• hold a public hearing and consider granting a liquor license for Roosters.
Keith Edwards — 621-5647