City Gives Overview of FY14 Budget

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Thursday January 10, 2013

On January 7, City Manager Sandy Miller and Deputy City Manager Bob Rusten gave an overview of the FY14 budget and outlined issues facing the general fund. Expenditures, proposed revenues, increases in FY14 general fund non-property tax revenue, and challenges to enterprise funds were presented.  An estimate of City taxes and utilities was also provided based on FY14 budgets.
One of the greatest challenges facing the general fund is a $403,810 reduction in revenue from FY13 to FY14. This revenue reduction mainly stems from the fact that grants for paving and other improvements are not given annually. Increased spending in the areas of interim zoning, health insurance, pension and health sick bank, the purchase of a fire truck, police department vehicles, and The Vermont League of Cities and Towns Property And Casualty Intermunicipal Fund (PACIF) result in an $895,117 increase over FY13. Overall, general fund expenditures are facing an increase of 13.7%, general fund non-property tax revenues estimated increase by 24.91%, the property tax rate estimated increase is 4.93% and the special funds budget expenditure is estimated to see a $70,495 decrease from FY13.

The City is continuing to increase ways to raise money other than through property taxes. Much of this is through impact fees. Director of Public Works Justin Rabidoux reviewed challenges of the enterprise funds: water, stormwater, and sewer. He outlined water rate increases due to higher operating costs to manage the water system and to beginning the seven year water meter replacement program. In terms of stormwater, the FY14 budget initiates the budget process for future MS4 (municipal separate stormwater system) permit expenses expected to cost SB $40 million dollars (20 year permit cost with inflation, conservative estimate made by the state based upon analysis of SBs watersheds). The new permit was recently passed into law in Vermont. To comply with the permit, the City must develop Flow Restoration Plans. The FY14 budget includes a one-time expense of $256K for this work. The FRPs will establish a schedule and create a budget so that all work is completed by 2033, as required. Key elements of this budget include: water user fees are proposed to increase 3.9%; a rate increase of 2.0% is proposed for the sewer budget; and to meet MS4 requirements, a rate increase of 2.5% is proposed for FY14.

An estimate of increased City taxes and utilities based on fiscal year 2014 budgets was presented. The City tax rate is estimated to increase $0.0199 (1.99 cents) from $0.4036 to $0.4235, or 4.93%.  For the average homeowner, there is a proposed water increase of $9.20, stormwater $1.80, and sewer $7.26 annually. The total estimated combined City tax and utility increase for a condo with an average value of $224,000 would equate to $62.84 annually or $5.24 per month. A single detached home valued at $322,000 would see an increase to $82.54 annually or $6.88 monthly.

Deputy City manager Bob Rusten said that they tried to design a budget that would assist the Council in achieving their priorities. It was designed to help achieve TIF and City Center, interim zoning, path to sustainability, workers compensation improved rating, facilities issues, and intergovernmental and interagency cooperation and collaboration.

More detailed information on the budget will be presented all day beginning at 9 a.m. at South Burlington City Hall on Saturday January 12. This session is open and will also be recorded on CCTV.

SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent