On Tuesday, the Dillon Town Council reviewed a first draft of the proposed 2015 budget, which shows estimated expenses outpacing projected revenues, as has been the case since the Great Recession.
Although the budget’s not balanced, finance director Carri McDonnell said she’s not as concerned about next year as she has been about others in the recent past. As of Tuesday, she projected 2015 expenses to outpace revenues by about $34,000. This time last year, expenses were estimated to exceed revenues by more than $56,000.
“I’m not concerned about the $34,000 because this is a very preliminary, very conservative budget,” McDonnell said. “I’d hate to start talking about cuts this early in the process, and I feel confident, after we receive July and August sales tax figures, that we will have a balanced budget when we bring this back to you later in the year.”
McDonnell’s presentation included some highlights, among them a $750,000 transfer out of the general fund to the capital improvement fund.
Since 2012, the town has received additional revenues from sales taxes and fines that had not been previously allocated. Town staffers think it’s time to appropriate those funds to address long-overdue capital improvements, McDonnell said.
Even with the allocation to the capital improvement fund, McDonnell said, the town would continue to maintain a three-month operating reserve of $1,048,332 in the general fund, plus more than $80,000 of cash on hand for emergencies.
Additionally, 2015 revenues are projected to increase over 2014’s by 5.5 percent, or $218,667, bringing next year’s total estimated revenue to $4,158,890. Despite the predicted increase in sales tax revenues, McDonnell said she expects other funding streams — property taxes, fees for service and court fees, among others — to remain fairly flat in 2015.
However, expenses also are expected to increase next year compared with 2014, throwing the current draft of the budget out of whack by $34,000, McDonnell said.
Among the more significant costs are 20 and 10 percent increases in health insurance premiums and worker’s compensation, respectively. Police department costs are expected to rise sharply in 2015.
The bulk of the police department’s increased costs stem from the town’s share of operating expenses for the Summit County Communications Center, which manages the 911 dispatch system. Operating expenses for the communications center are shared by the county, the ambulance service and all of the towns and fire districts. Dillon’s share of the costs in 2015 worked out to $184,881, a 20.5 percent increase over 2014.
Dillon town manager Tom Breslin referenced a resolution approved recently by the county commissioners to float a funding initiative for public safety and water quality projects on the November general election ballot. The initiative proposes a temporary property tax mill levy aimed at raising $3.73 million annually over the next eight years, including $1.45 million annually to fund technological upgrades at the communications center.
“It’s really important we and all of the towns get behind this initiative,” Breslin told the town council. “If it passes in November, we could see that number (Dillon’s share of operational expenses) drop by 20 to 25 percent.”
“I’d hate to start talking about cuts this early in the process and I feel confident, after we receive July and August sales tax figures, that we will have a balanced budget when we bring this back to you later in the year.”
Dillon finance director