Department heads in the City of Enterprise presented possible budget reductions during a special work session of the Enterprise City Council on Tuesday.
Each department head was given a request to reduce his or her budget for the upcoming fiscal year by a set amount. At the Sept. 17 work session, Councilman Turner Townsend said he believed the council needed a special session prior to budget approval.
“At some point this is basic home economics from the council’s standpoint,” Townsend said at that session. “How much money are we going to get? How much money are we going to spend? And how much money are we going to have in the bank? If we’re ever going to have a serious conversation about things like a new rec center (or) things like soccer fields, at some point we’ve got to free up some dollars in the budget. We just can’t keep matching our expenses to our revenues.”
One of the primary topics of discussion was the city’s sewer fund, which reflects a deficit. A $250,000 line item within the fund, initially believed to be debt service, was determined to be a transfer from sewer to the general fund.
“It’s simply a transfer over,” Townsend said. “I think the general fund is going to have to stop raiding the sewer fund. My suggestion would be to stop that transfer. What it’s been doing is it makes the sewer fund look worse than it actually is and leads us to assign blame to rates, when we’re actually pulling money out of the sewer fund to pay for Parks and Recreation, to pay for police cars.”
No one could determine the reason for the budgeted transfer.
Overall, reductions presented by department heads and proposed changes brought the total budget surplus to around $400,000 including just over $60,000 already in the surplus.
Reductions, according to Townsend’s numbers, included $14,000, airport; $80,000, engineering; $57,000, sanitation; $62,000, street; $6,400 in fleet maintenance for street and sanitation; $128,000, police; $74,000, fire; $40,000, Enterprise Civic Center; $1,000, Enterprise Farmer’s Market; $5,500, tourism; and $80,000, administration.
Some of the cuts included removal of salaries for certain open positions, delay of acquiring vehicle assets and equipment, as well as delay of capital projects.
Councilmembers discussed options after hearing the reductions. The council decided to have the numbers crunched for a proposal -- taking into account all changes -- in order to have a clear budget to consider at its next regularly-scheduled meeting on Oct. 1.
Councilwoman Sonya Rich said the “safe route” would be to pass the budget, monitor expenses over the coming months and meet again in January, per a recommendation from Townsend.
“Meet back maybe after the first quarter, which will be in January, and have a work session with all the department heads (to) bring all the concessions they brought (during budget talks) back to the table,” Townsend said. “(That way) we would have a much better picture and that’ll give us a good, clean budget to pass next week.”