Council to begin budget process next week

City Council members will kick off the Fiscal Year 2015 budget process with their first budget meeting on Tuesday at 4 p.m. at City Hall.

This year, says David Nichols, the magic number is $53 million. “Right now,” Nichols says, “that’s the amount of money we project we’ll have to operate the city on a day-to-day basis.”

The $53 million figure does not include three major capital projects: the city’s ongoing $355 million federally-funded infrastructure project; the $36 million stadium project, which is being funded by $21 million in borrowed funds and a $15 million BP grant; and an ongoing $14 million street-paving program, also funded with borrowed money.

The operations budget is funded by the city’s three primary revenue streams are gaming taxes ($17 million projected), sales taxes ($11 million projected) and property taxes ($9 million projected). The remainder of the budget – about $16 million is derived from fines, grants, fees and rentals of city properties.

“Councilmembers will be taking their first look at available revenues during the meeting,” Nichols said. “The numbers are essentially flat, but we’re holding our own.”

About 80 percent of the operations budget is committed to personnel, Nichols said, “and 80 percent of that is for police and fire, so there’s not a lot to cut without getting into essential services.”

The municipal budget year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, and councilmembers usually have a new budget in place by mid-September.
See current city budget information