As city officials pore over mountains of budget requests in preparation for the new fiscal year, it's likely one of the few times you'll hear talk of drug prevention, fire trucks and public pools within an hour long discussion.
Graham City Manager David Casteel presented a preliminary draft of the city's 2015 general fund budget that includes half the salary for a county bond supervisor position, a new fire truck, salary for a narcotics investigator and additional construction on the community pool.
Aldermen must adopt a budget before the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. Two of the city's more expensive projects for the upcoming fiscal year, Salt Creek Park at $1.3 million and a new visitors center for the Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau at $700,000, will have no implications on the upcoming budget because they are being funded by outside revenue streams.
Therefore, this draft budget is based on a few key preliminary revenue assumptions made by city staff.
The first: Sales tax revenue will grow by 6.7 percent. A similar rate of growth was assumed for the 2014 fiscal year that has so far not been met, leading to a projected budget shortfall of approximately $73,000. Graham Financial Director David Maddy explained the confidence in the 6.7 percent growth, despite less-than-expected growth this year.
"The last couple of months (sales tax revenue collections) have been up significantly," Maddy said. "If it continues the next couple months like it has the last couple months, then we can expect the growth to continue next year."
The second assumption was that property tax revenue would not change, and Maddy added that these are simply preliminary assumptions which can be altered later depending on how things develop. Salary expenditures within this draft budget include a 3-percent cost of living increase for employees at $73,682, $75,000 for a narcotics investigator and $24,500 to bankroll half the cost of a county bond supervisor position.
This position was identified as a need by Community Leaders Against Crime, a task force chaired by Mayor Jack Graham that includes city officials, law enforcement officers and members of the justice system.
The other half of the position's salary may be funded by the county. District Attorney Dee Peavy also requested the addition of a bond supervisor at the June 9 Young County Commissioners Court meeting, but the item was tabled. During Wednesday's city council meeting, Councilman Darby Brockway asked about the level of commitment the county has shown for its side of the salary.
Read the entire story in this weekend's Graham Leader.