Batesville Budget

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Batesville ‘still got a ways to go’ to ready new budget

By John Howell Sr.

Batesville aldermen, meeting for two hours Monday morning with CPA Bill Crawford of the Will Polk and Associates accounting firm, narrowed the gap between estimated expenses and revenues as they planned the city’s budget for fiscal 2012.

It was the second meeting in the give-and-take negotiations that should finally produce the balanced budget required by state law to begin October 1.

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During a July 19 budget meeting, the city officials faced a $900,000 deficit in the general fund and a $600,000 deficit in the Civic Center budget. On Monday, Crawford presented new figures based on recommendations for cuts made by the mayor and aldermen last week. The new totals showed shortfalls of $502,000 and $125,000, respectively, in those departments, which is where aldermen started Monday morning.

“We still got a ways to go; … we’ve got to get everybody in a positive position,” Crawford said.

“The down, dirty and easy part is that gas is flush; it’s projecting $2 million, so you could with one fell swoop say ‘we’re just going to transfer the money over there.’ … Either we’ve got to trim some more on expenditures or just do the transfer,” Crawford continued. “We still haven’t discussed raises.”

The CPA reminded aldermen that they had used a surplus from the gas department to balance the budget the city is operating under this year — $1,335,000 was authorized to be transferred from the gas department to cover other shortfalls to balance the budget projected for the fiscal 2011. However, the money was never needed.

“Because expenses didn’t materialize; additional revenues may have materialized, so it just wasn’t necessary,” Crawford said, later in the meeting.

Crawford first told aldermen about several items the mayor had requested they consider: reduction by $5,000 in expense from the  gas department due to change in specifications for a requested vehicle, the hiring of an additional full-time fire fighter, employee raises and budgeting for the city’s purchase of the old service station building at the corner of Public Square and Eureka.

Discussion for most of the next hours ranged from whether overtime pay for fire fighters could be reduced to offset the cost of hiring another full-time fire fighter to steps needed to adopt a merit system for employee pay raises. They cut an additional $100,000 from Batesville Civic Center Director Roy Hyde’s request to construct service pads for recreational vehicles on the property.

Hyde had originally in his “wish list” requested $300,000 for the RV pad construction. The $100,000 cut on Monday eliminated any funding for the project for the coming fiscal year.

“Later on the year, if he (Hyde) got his numbers crunched and it’s viable, we’ll amend the budget at that time,” Crawford said.

The city officials will meet again at 1 p.m. Wednesday where their main focus will be employee raises. Near the end of Monday’s meeting, aldermen were calculating the impact on the city’s budget if employees received raises of $500 annually per employee for fiscal 2012.