City Council OKs $27 million budget

The City Council approved its $27 million preliminary budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year Tuesday night at City Hall.

Revenue was up 6.2 percent from last year because of an increase in property tax, consolidated tax and rent for the Copper Mountain 3 solar project, according to Finance Director Shirley Hughes.

The additional revenue helped the city open up a position for an airport operations agent and an emergency medical services coordinator for the Fire Department. An anticipated increase in salaries for city staff also was included.

The city’s utility fund has a deficit of about $767,000 because of a 1.5 percent drop in revenue, despite the infrastructure sales tax increasing 15.4 percent. With the exception of funds being spent on a raw water line, the council is hoping to have all of the city’s debt paid off by 2017.

The capital in the city’s general fund was up $1.8 million mostly because of Copper Mountain 3, Hughes said.

City Manager David Fraser recommended that the council set aside $1.3 million for electrical infrastructure repairs. He also said the city plans to replace six older police cars with four new ones.

Fraser said the city needs vehicles and to fund capital projects.

Councilman Rod Woodbury was displeased at the limited amount of time he had to look over the budget.

“We just don’t have enough time to digest what’s going on,” he said. “Something’s wrong with the process if we only get four days to view what is the city’s road map for the next year. We want to make sure we’re not spending money we don’t have.”

Woodbury suggested the city begin working on the budget two months earlier and add more workshops to speed up the process.

Hughes said it takes about four months to put the yearly budget together, and that it’s difficult to judge what the numbers could potentially be without specific figures from revenue and expenses.

“It’s hard to go with it when we don’t have hard numbers yet,” Hughes said. “It’s a process, and we’re just going to have to work with everyone.”

The city’s tentative budget must be turned over to the Taxation Department by Tuesday, with the final budget approval by May 21.