By REID TUCKER
The City of DeFuniak Springs will not have to use reserves to balance the operating fund side of its budget for first time since 1999.
All five members of the City Council approved the final draft of the Fiscal Year 2014 budget at the city’s last budget workshop, held Tuesday, Aug. 27. Despite early projections showing the city would face a shortfall of about half-a-million dollars, subsequent meetings whittled that figure down via the elimination of big-ticket line items to bring the total deficit to $320,000, already substantially less than the million-dollar-plus shortfall of just two years ago. The Council then directed staff to further remove several other items not creating a reduction in services, among which was $106,000 for utility line relocation at Juniper Lake, $50,000 for professional related to the CNG station, and a $57,940 reduction in the amount to finance a new police station.
The end result of all those cuts was to reduce the total deficit of the operating fund to zero, bringing the final version of the proposed budget to $24,491,390 with no need for moneys from reserves on the operating fund side. The city will still use $78,000 from reserves for capital asset replacement, or, in more practical terms, to purchase new equipment – the originally intended purpose of reserves. This means the city was also able to effectively balance its operating budget without increasing the millage rate, another first.
Only one thing was left holding up the total balance of revenues and expenditures in operations: a discrepancy of a $130 overage in expenditures. Once the line item was rounded off to $100, the errant $30 was transferred into revenues to balance the operating budget.
The new budget will next be discussed at its first public hearing in a special meeting to be held Sept. 12. The City Council’s next regular meeting is set for Sept. 9.