By REID TUCKER
The DeFuniak Springs City Council gave unanimous support to Councilman Mac Work’s proposal that the prospective Fiscal Year 2012 budget include provision for raises for all city employees.
That across-the-board approval came at the second of the city’s four budget workshops, held Tuesday, July 31. The Council will be presented with the final budget prior to its regular meeting on Sept. 10. The dates of public hearings on the proposed millage rate and budget are yet to be determined as the city must wait on the Walton County School Board and County Commission to set their dates first.
City Manager Sarah Bowers gave the Council the recommendation that employees should not have a pay increase, but Work nevertheless proposed a raise of $4 per workday, amounting to $1,040 annually, for all 105 individuals on the city’s payroll, including elected officials.
Aside from discussing employee salaries, the main purpose of the workshop was to go over the budget’s projected revenues and expenditures and the items requested by individual city departments in the coming fiscal year.
The proposed budget projects a grand total of $14,648,030 for FY2012, a reduction of just less than 49 percent from the actual year-to-date revenues of the FY2011 budget, which came in at $21,811,098. The general fund budget total revenues of $6,172,270 are down 27.4 percent, or $1,693,858, from the current budget’s actual year-to-date figure. Federal and state grants are projected to come in at $1.7 million for FY2012.
Expenditures are projected to be down from both the proposed FY2011 budget and the actual year-to-date figures. The proposed FY2012 budget shows projected grant total expenditures of $12,367,621, a reduction of $964,657 from the actual FY2011 outflow and $11,826,219 from the current budget’s projected expenditures.
The Public Works Departments had by far the biggest budget requests, which came in at $1,128,000 for several projects, including the repaving of North 20th Street. However, $1,030,000 of the requested amount will be paid out of Local Option Gas Reserves. The other big ticket item for the Streets Department was a $90,000 request to purchase a new excavator.
Other items requested by Public Works include $20,000 to replace electrical panels, breakers and wiring along with light pole maintenance at the Lakeyard, a combined $195,000 for engineering fees and half of the estimated utility line relocation to take place at Juniper Lake Bridge in 2014. Another $35,000 was requested to construct showers and temporary living quarters at the Public Works Facility, as well as a $75,000 request for hiring out designs on a compressed natural gas fueling station.
Another major budget request came from the Police Department, which put in for $120,000 for the purpose of remodeling the former Walton County Health Department building as a future site for DFSPD headquarters, with $68,000 rolled over from the current budget also going toward the remodeling project. City Marshal Mark Weeks suggested that the Council consider allowing the Police Department to purchase two new fleet vehicles per year rather than having to buy 10 or more vehicles every five years. The Department’s fleet turned five years old this year.
The previous workshop, held July 17, saw the Council give consensus to set the tentative millage rate at 4.5 mills, an increase from the FY2011 rate of 4.0 mills. Proposed property taxes levied under the increased millage rate come in at $936,395, an increase from $823,324 in the current fiscal year’s adjusted ad valorem proceeds. One mill represents $1 of tax on an assessed taxable $1,000 of property value.
The finalized budget will be presented at the next workshop, set for Aug. 16 rather than Aug. 14 as that date conflicts with the primary elections.
The full tentative budget is available for viewing by the public at City Hall. Upon adoption by the Council in September the budget will be posted on the city’s website.