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October 24, 2014

City may use reserve funds for possible deficit

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Posted: Wednesday, August 27, 2014 8:53 am | Updated: 8:56 am, Wed Aug 27, 2014.

City leaders may use reserve funds to balance Jacksonville’s budget in 2015, according to a report discussed at the City Council meeting Monday.  

The council expects to take in $12.5 million in revenue and spend about $450,000 more than that in 2015. The council plans to whittle expenses down, but if it can’t, the city will have to draw $450,000 from money it keeps in a reserve fund.  

City Administrator Jarrod Simmons said the extra expenses can be attributed to increasing costs across departments.

“It’s not necessarily that revenues aren’t coming in,” Simmons said. “Expenditures have been up.”

For example, he said, the cost of salaries and benefits have been steadily increasing for the past five years. In 2010 salaries and benefits for employees cost $6.3 million of the budget, and in 2015 it is expected to cost $7.5 million.

The city is paying about $1.2 million a year to pay debt for two city-funded projects, a planned safety complex and a new elementary school. Simmons said that expense matches the revenue it is collecting from a 1-cent sales tax the city approved to pay for the projects.

The city’s annual budget is based on projected expenditures and revenues for the next fiscal year, which runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. That gives the city at least one month more to find ways to cut expenses.

Mayor Johnny Smith said that in most budget years the city is able to curb its expenses to make sure they match its revenue.

In the current fiscal year, which ends next month, the city expects to overspend its budget by about $650,000. This also marks the second year the city has planned to use reserve funds, which Simmons described in the report as being strong enough to cover the difference.

“In the past we wound up cutting and cutting so we didn’t have to spend what we took in,” Smith said.

The city will host a work session on Sept. 8 to discuss the budget at 8:45 a.m.

In other business, the council:

- Formally received a recommendation from the Jacksonville Planning Commission to rezone property at 1224 Church Avenue for business development. It is now zoned for residential development.

- Agreed to hold a public hearing on Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. concerning the proposed zoning change at 1224 Church Avenue.

- Acknowledged the retirement of four employees: Lavon Brown, police records and office clerk; Albert Jarmon Jr., an equipment operator in the street department; Denise Rucker, RSVP director; and Sandra Marion, part-time finance accountant.

- Approved an amended job description for police record and office clerk.

- Accepted resignation of Ronald Webb, a police officer.  

- Agreed to request a list of eligible applicants for four positions: police officer; police records and office clerk; equipment operator; and part-time finance accountant from the civil service board. The council did not request a list of eligible applicants for RSVP director.

- Agreed to pay $17,692 to SIRSI Corporation for software at the Jacksonville Public Library.

- Agreed to pay $3,109 to Millican Chemical for mosquito spray and towel dispensers.

- Agreed to pay $3,109 to Batey & Sanders, Inc. to build a road leading to the industrial development park.  

- Agreed to pay $5,000 to CPT Technologies, for the installation of equipment needed at the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Staff Writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LGaddy_Star.

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