Saturday, July 14, 2012

San Angelo's Budget Priorities

City Council July 20, 2012 Budget Presentation
City Council held a budget workshop on Tuesday, July 10.  I listened to the meeting on Channel 17 via the web, but only heard audio.  The video feed didn't show on my computer.

While no final decisions were made, Council discussed a few highlights:

1.  Identifying $3 million a year for street maintenance and replacement.  Currently, only $1.5 million is available for General Fund capital projects

Due to poor upkeep the city is behind on street maintenance, to the point some streets need total replacement.  The operating budget has an additional $1.2 million for seal coating, where the city will take back over a service currently privatized.

Worst case scenario shows $155 million in long term street capital needs.  Council wants to dig out of this pothole with cash, not borrowing.  That's like saving up for your home and not buying until you can pay cash.  Therefore, council looked for operating savings:

2.  Shifting animal service functions to an area nonprofit.

The aim here is to reduce the amount the city spends on animal services.  The City believes grant funds would support an area nonprofit, although Interim City Manager could identify no foundations currently interested in supporting this move.  Other possibilities include:

3. Closing parks and shifting the Texas Bank Sports Complex to a private facilities corporation.
I find it ironic that items #2 and #3 are privatization, while #1 is re-publicization of a formerly privatized function, since judged inadequate.

4.  Installation of parking meters downtown that would be in effect during the day and evening.

Many cities are privatizing their parking functions.  The City of San Angelo might install parking meters, which could be privatized later.  .  

Health insurance arose at the end of the meeting.  The hope is that no new money is needed, but that's due to tow factors.  One is the city's experience to date, while the other is the city's byzantine budget process which never adjusted the budget for the exclusive provider arrangement with Community Hospital.  In effect, there's a budget sandbag to absorb a minimal increase. 

Overall, council did not want to pass the total budget increase onto citizens in the form of fee or tax increases.  Mayor New noted the City could reduce employee headcount, at least in relation to other cities which employ fewer (but pay them more).

These elements simmer in the 2012-2013 budget stew.  The heat's fixin' to turn up. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Again I want to thank you for your research and attention to the miserable and possibly criminal activities of the city. As an employee me and my fellow employees are quizzing state and federal agencies about the city's use of EERP funds and how they did not affect what was passed on to the workforce.