Municipal services and programs will remain at current levels with no increases in real estate, meals and lodging taxes as calculated in a working draft of a budget that City Manager Joe King submitted to Danville City Council on Tuesday night.
The budget draft includes a utility rate study recommendation for an average 3.5 percent increase in wastewater rates. The bill for the typical residential customer would increase by $1.85 a month. No increases for electricity, gas and water are included in the budget draft.
“The City must provide just the right mix of municipal services and facilities to satisfy current resident demands and attract newcomers,” King stated in the budget draft. “And it must accomplish this while operating cost-effectively with affordable taxes, fees and utility rates.”
The working draft of the city’s budget is for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
The city’s charter requires the city manager to submit a budget draft to City Council by April 1. After it is submitted, the charter requires the city manager and City Council to work together in modifying the budget into a formal version for presentation to the public no later than April 30.
King submitted the working draft early to enable City Council to undertake a more extensive review of the budget. Toward that goal, City Council will meet every Tuesday evening this month for a department-by-department review of the working draft. The meetings are open to the public. The first meeting will be held Tuesday, March 10, at 6 p.m. in the fourth floor conference room at the Municipal Building.
Public hearings will be scheduled later in the budget process. Final adoption must take place no later than June 30. The final budget will serve as a blueprint for city operations from July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016.
The working draft follows council’s guidance provided last fall that services, programs and facilities should be maintained at current levels. The cost to operate at current levels will increase by $2.7 million or 2.47 percent.
To offset the increase, the city expects more revenue from local sales, prepared meals and lodging taxes. Use of cash reserves are proposed for one-time expenditures such as capital improvements.
“The City’s financial condition is excellent in terms of maintenance of appropriate cash reserves, levels of indebtedness and retirement system funding,” King stated. “Prudent use of cash reserves and moderate increases in debt financing makes it possible to balance the FY 2016 budget without increases in property taxes.”
No increase is included in the transfer of utility funds for general operations.
The working draft includes $2.8 million for salary and wage increases under the second year of the city’s pay-for-performance system. Each employee undergoes a performance evaluation. Salary and wage increases are based on the evaluation.
In addition to pay-for-performance increases, some employees last year were eligible for one-time adjustments for pay compression. Pay compression was the result of defunding the merit pay system two decades ago. Rather than a second round of separate pay compression increases, this year’s working draft includes larger than normal pay-for-performance increases to address residual disparities. Instead of increases of 0 percent to 4 percent, increases of 0 percent to 7 percent are proposed for one-year only.
Two new deputy clerk positions and one fire code inspector position are included in the working draft. The clerks would work in the Clerk of Circuit Court office. The fire code inspector position would be a temporary position to assist in the city’s blight eradication program.
The working draft also includes an additional $957,500 for economic development incentives and $1.15 million for the next installments for the repayment on non-performing grants from the Tobacco Commission.
Support of Danville Public Schools would remain flat at $18.65 million.