The Herald Bulletin

September 12, 2013

City Council delays introduction of 2014 proposed budget

By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — The City Council Thursday night tabled both the introduction of Mayor Kevin Smith’s proposed fiscal 2014 budget and a public hearing on the spending plan that was scheduled.

The vote to take those actions was 8-1. City Councilman Russ Willis, R-District 1, opposed the move.

The reasoning behind the council’s action was not entirely clear, although President David Eicks, D-at large, said he had concerns about whether the budget proposed by the Smith administration was balanced.

Eicks said members of the City Council would confer today to find an alternative date for introducing and holding a public hearing on the proposed budget.

“What the council did tonight is a bit concerning as it relates to the budget process,” Smith said after the vote.

If council members had any questions about the proposed spending plan, the city’s experts were available to address them, the mayor said.

Under state law, the City Council must adopt a budget before Nov. 1.

Smith’s proposed $70.93 million budget for fiscal 2014 focuses heavily on maintaining adequate police and fire department staffs, an issue that proved controversial during last year’s budget deliberations and led to several public demonstrations and heated public hearings.

Among other things, Smith plans to recall seven furloughed firefighters to active duty, purchase a new fire engine and two new ambulances for the Anderson Fire Department.

He also proposes buying four new police cars and two motorcycles for the Police Department.

The proposed general fund budget for fiscal 2014 would be $31.55 million, about a $1.1 million increase over this year’s approved general fund budget of $30.46 million, according to new City Controller Jason Fenwick.

The general fund is Anderson’s main bank account. It is used to finance the operations of city hall, as well as police and fire services. Police and fire appropriations would account for about $20.9 million of total general fund expenditures in the 2014 spending plan, said Fenwick.

A property tax levy of $20.68 million, plus a fund balance carryover from this year estimated at $6.16 million, will finance government operations. In addition, the city will receive about $15.41 million in revenue from other miscellaneous sources, Fenwick said.

What the expected levy does not take into account, however, is revenue the city will lose because of property tax relief measures passed by the Indiana General Assembly in 2008.

According to Fenwick’s estimates, Anderson’s net property tax levy will be $13.44 million, a $7.23 million difference from what the city would have received before property tax reform.

Overall, Fenwick said, the mayor’s budget proposal does not differ significantly from what the City Council reviewed during informal budget sessions held in July.

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