City outlines budget; plans levy increaseCity Council members got their first look during a Sept. 11 meeting at River Falls’ draft budget for 2013, which City Administrator Scot Simpson summarized. The projected total needed to operate River Falls next year: $41,051,057, an increase over last year’s budget total of 2.60%.
By: Debbie Griffin, River Falls Journal
City Council members got their first look during a Sept. 11 meeting at River Falls’ draft budget for 2013, which City Administrator Scot Simpson summarized.
The projected total needed to operate River Falls next year: $41,051,057, an increase over last year’s budget total of 2.60%.
River Falls anticipates raising the tax levy by 2.7%, which Simpson says is less than projected in the city’s fiscal plan. Last year the tax levy increased about 1.3%.
He said the outline gives a good first look at how things are shaping up. He said the city set a goal of drafting the budget with plenty of time for review, workshops, public hearing and other efforts.
The City Council attend a budget workshop Tuesday and will hold more sessions if needed. The city will hold a public hearing on the budget 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13. Approval of the 2013 budget is expected to happen at the Nov. 27 City Council meeting.
Simpson said the numbers follow River Falls’ 2011-2013 work plan, the city’s five-year fiscal plan and established fiscal policies. He reiterated a general budget goal: A no-drama process.
Simpson’s presentation to the Council showed that the average property tax bill in River Falls is around $3,000, of which the city’s part is about $600. Funds from the tax levy are used for operations, debt service and capital.
Revenue will increase about $45,000 due to better-than-expected interest earnings and about $127,000 from increased allocations from re-organized funds.
A revenue decrease of $20,000 results from reductions in state shared revenue, as well as a reduction in “sensitive revenues” such as money from building permits and courts.
Expenses decrease in two areas: Elections by $24,500 since it’s an odd-numbered year; and engineering by nearly $60,000 because the department eliminated a vacant full-time position.
Health insurance represents a major cost increase for 2013 versus what was included in the fiscal plan, with an expected increase of 15% or $ 240,000.
Expenses increase by $85,447 for public safety due to the increased costs of maintaining current police and fire staffing levels. Forestry and the Glen Park pool each add about $11,000 in increased expenses due to a boulevard-tree replacement program and improvements to include an ADA-accessible chair lift and a concrete deck.
Finance department expenses increased also as a result of consolidating accounting functions.
The money for the budget comes from six different funds: General, debt service, special revenue, capital projects, enterprise and internal service.
The enterprise fund has $20.1 million for basic utility functions including electric, sewer, ambulance, water and storm water. It takes the largest part of the city’s budget, about 51%.
From the general fund, about 21% of the budget, comes the money for public safety, public works and engineering, community development, administration and finance, non-departmental items, human resources and mayor and city council. The total amount allocated for that fund is $8.5 million.
The capital projects fund contains about $7 million to cover general improvements -- see related story -- and capital equipment, which totals about 17% of the 2013 budget.
Special revenues will have about $3.2 million for 2013; it covers the library, tax-increment finance districts, taxis and parking meters, media services and impact/revolving/environmental fees, housing reserves, development and tourism, and solid waste. This fund makes up about 8% of the city budget.
From the debt service fund, which contains about a million dollars and comprises 2% of the budget, comes the money to make payments on the city’s debt.
River Falls’ internal service fund, about 1% of the total budget at $411,274, covers expenses related to City Hall, technology and the motor pool.
Simpson showed a chart with the history of tax-levy limits, which indicated that River Falls has remained under the state’s maximum-levy limit for the past four years.
People can look at the budget summary and accompanying graphics online at the city’s Web site -- www.rfcity.org -- or via hard copy at City Hall, 222 Lewis St. and the River Falls Public Library, 140 Union St.