Budget addresses needs, leaves city in good shape

Published 5:00 am Monday, September 11, 2006

Brookhaven aldermen and Mayor Bob Massengill have approved newyear budgets that address a number of important issues whilecontinuing to leave the city in good financial shape.

The $9.2 million general fund budget will require no propertytax levy increase. City water and sewer and solid waste customers,however, will have to pay more to support those operations’budgets.

While leaving water rates unchanged, the board passed a 75cents-per 1,000 gallons of water increase on sewer rates. Thatmeans a $2.25 monthly increase for the customer who uses theminimum 3,000 gallons a month, and proportionally more for thosewho use more water.

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In solid waste, leaders are still awaiting what kind of increasewill be needed to cover a new garbage collection contract. Whilenot expecting a significant increase, city officials said theper-household costs would simply be passed on the customers.

The increases, particularly in the water department, are neededas those operations must be supported by user fees and reservefunds have been used in years past to make the budgets balance.With the exception of a small tax levy for solid waste, revenuefrom other sources may not be used for the water and sewer andsolid waste budgets.

In the general fund, aldermen have authorized 3 percent raisesfor city employees, including themselves; set aside funds formuch-needed equipment replacement; and allocated money for chamberefforts to benefit the community. Among those are $12,000 to aid inthe chamber’s marketing of the new LinBrook Business Park and$18,000 for new Christmas decorations.

During the current year, aldermen wisely took advantage ofhigher sales tax collections and lower asphalt costs and were ableto address a number of projects in their respective wards. The newyear spending plan does not include discretionary project funding,but a conservative budget approach leaves open that possibility forlater in the year should revenue be greater than anticipated.

The new budget, which is down about $1 million from the currentyear due mainly to fewer grant-funded projects, also calls forrevenue to exceed expenditures by around $219,000. That would helpbuild the city’s reserve funds and leave it in even better positionto address emergencies should they arise.