The 2010-2011 fiscal year is drawing to a close, and businesses and governmental bodies across the country are busy drafting another budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The Wilmore City Council is one of those in the preparing stage.
Councilman and finance and budget committee chairman Jim Brumfield has been working on Wilmore’s budget since Mayor Harold Rainwater appointed him to oversee the process in March. He presented the first draft of his proposed budget to the council members at a meeting in the beginning of May. While Brumfield said money is still tight, he also said he is “optimistic” about this year’s budget.
“I think we’ll get most, if not all, of the things the department heads are hoping to get,” Brumfield said.
The outside requests, though, like a recent funding request from Jessamine County Schools to contribute to funding for the school-resource-officer (SRO) program, may not make the budget, or at least not in the full amounts requested, Brumfield said.
Brumfield said he also wants to openly discuss the topic of raises with the rest of the council and that the council should be discussing SRO funding at the next meeting.
“This is the first shot out of the gun with no raises, but it’s going to point out how much raises would cost,” Brumfield told the council as he passed out his budget suggestion in the first meeting in May. “I’m not saying I don’t want raises, I just think we need to discuss some things, like raises, and the question about the SRO program.”
The budget proposal shows a projected revenue of $1,999,500 for the general fund, most of which would come from property taxes, insurance fees and sanitation fees, franchises and surplus from the bond fund.
The surplus from the bond fund comes into the city’s hands at the end of each fiscal year when money is left over from paying off a portion of the bond the city took out in the 1970s to improve the water and sanitation facilities.
The bond requires all payroll taxes be used to pay the bond fund first; then the remainder will be transferred over to the general fund after the debt is paid at the end of each fiscal year. This year’s surplus was about $683,700.
Some expenses can be more difficult to budget, Brumfield said.
“Any time you deal with streets, which includes weather-related things, you can’t always predict too well,” Brumfield said. “Vehicle maintenance is also another one of those things.”
This winter, the streets department had to order more salt mid-season due to the increased level of snow and ice the area received, causing a budget amendment a few months ago.
Brumfield said the audit the city receives each year was the primary tool he used to build his budget proposal. The audit showed a good report without any operational red flags, he said.
“The audit is the final report card to me; it’s what we should base most of the budget planning on,” Brumfield said. “Even though it is a year old, you can still base it on last year’s budget. Expenses aren’t really going to get any less, and as the city grows, the expenses and funds tend to grow, too.”
Brumfield expressed some concerns about receiving the audit several months later than usual, but this year is one of the earliest the council has started serious budgeting talks for the upcoming year. And the council members agreed.
“The process will be different this year (by starting on the budget process earlier),” Brumfield said. “We have about 60 days to work with it. Everyone has this time to look and study it (the first draft of a budget) and come up with ideas on how to spend the money. I’m excited we started it earlier — and everyone can get involved in it.”