West Point discusses budget

Published 8:11 pm Wednesday, October 25, 2017

WEST POINT — Each year the West Point City Manager and the department directors and staff prepare the annual budget. The budget process for 2018 began on Aug. 3 and will conclude on Dec. 11. Building the budget over these months includes input from the City Council, distribution of the draft budget to the community and two public hearings for public input. The final decision on the budget in its entirety is the city council’s.

Details of the proposed 2018 spending plan were discussed Tuesday during a work session of the city council.

“The City of West Point budget has continued to grow over the past decade as the city has grown,” said City Manager Ed Moon. “West Point is fortunate to have a positive financial position even during times when most of the country was struggling. Over the last decade the total budget has increased by 71 percent.”

“The city council continues to make decisions that improve and grow the services offered by the city from utilities to community facilities,” Moon added.

“The 2018 budget is a continuation of the high level of service that is delivered by the city each day,” Moon said. “With a general fund emphasis on public safety, which is second to none, the city has the staff and equipment to be there when called. City utilities continue to provide citizens quality services at a low cost. City facilities are maintained at a high level for citizen enjoyment.”

The total proposed spending plan for 2018 totals $20,367,802, which is broken down under General Fund, utilities, sanitation and 911.

The general fund basically covers the essential functions of city government, such as public safety, public works, recreation, planning and zoning and youth services. The total amount of the general fund budget is $7,150,978, 48 percent of which is earmarked for public safety. There are no recommended increases in taxes or fees in the proposed budget.

The utilities budget, which includes electric, natural gas, water and sewer, totals $11,789,124. Unlike the general fund, each utility fund has its own revenue source and the budgets are not combined. The city uses revenues from the electric fund to support general fund operations. Without the transfer of funds, the level of general government service would be severely impacted.

“The proposed utility budgets have an overall reduction of 1.2 percent. Natural gas has the largest reduction due to trending mild winter weather,” Moon said.

“The largest new proposed expense is in the water budget,” Moon continued.

“The water system has six storage structures that hold 3,725,000 gallons of water. This is essential to the operation of the system. These structures represent several million dollars in investment. The facilities were all painted 10 years ago and all but one, the 12th Street tank, are in good condition. The proposed 2018 budget includes a tank maintenance program with American Tank Company. The 2018 cost is $166,877 based on immediate work on the 12th Street tank. The maintenance program cost will decrease on the 10-year initial period. Committing to this program will assure the cities investment will maximize the life of the storage tanks.”

The electric department in 2017 has completed a major rebuild in the East 6th Street area improving system reliability. In 2018 it is recommended that system improvements continue by replacing poles and hardware along East 10th Street.

There are no rate changes recommended in the proposed utilities budget.

The remainder of spending plan is earmarked for sanitation and the city’s operation of a 911 emergency dispatch center. However, salaries and benefits for city employees are covered under the general fund.

A public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 9, at City Hall, beginning at 5:30 p.m.