Print Municipal budgets on track
Written by Greg Ruland   
Saturday, 09 July 2011 00:00

Cottonwood looks at $70M cap while Clarkdale aims for $30M cap

Cottonwood Town Manager Doug BartoshWith the deadline approaching for cities and towns to finalize fiscal year 2011-2012 budgets, two area municipalities are on track to approve final numbers by August.

In Cottonwood, the city would cap spending at almost $70 million, a 17 percent increase over the fiscal year 2010-2011 budget.

The spending cap is usually much larger than the amount the city actually spends for the year, “but without the authority, we can’t spend it,” should unanticipated grants or increased revenues appear, Cottonwood City Manager Doug Bartosh said.

The increased spending cap proposal is made possible due to frugal spending and a rollover of unspent general fund money from the 2010-11 budget, Bartosh said.

There is no additional staffing budgeted and no employment reclassifications planned for the coming fiscal year, Bartosh said.

Likewise, due to the struggling economy, there is no cost of living adjustment budgeted, but the employee merit program, which awards pay increases to employees who provide outstanding service, could be funded up to $390,000 this year should city council approve, according to Bartosh.

Council continues to review the tentative budget and plans to approve a final budget Tuesday, Aug. 2, according to city records.

Clarkdale plans a smaller increase in the budget cap for fiscal year 2011-2012, going from $29,767,052 in fiscal year 2010-2011 to $30,184,434 this year, according to the town’s tentative budget approved June 14.

The tentative budget does not call for an increase in property tax levies, although property tax rates could go up to overcome the drop in assessed value of Clarkdale real property, according to town records. That means the town could raise rates but collect roughly the same amount of money.

The town library director and public works director posts will not be filled and will be covered by a reorganization within town government, Clarkdale Finance Director Kathy Bainbridge said.

Town staff from various departments will be used to continue flood control projects and offset town costs with grant funding.

There will be no merit increases for town employees and a one-time cost of living increase will be approved only if funds are available in November, should the tentative budget be approved.

The budget projects a 7 percent increase in health insurance costs for employees as well as a 1 percent increase in the cost of workers’ compensation insurance.

A 50 percent increase in construction tax and a 30 percent increase in local tax revenues are predicted for fiscal year 2011-2012, but a 3 percent decrease in state-shared revenue is also expected, Bainbridge said.

In an effort to make the budget process more transparent, the town hosted two public discussions, but only one town resident attended.