Soldotna City Council unanimously passed the city’s fiscal year 2015 operating budget on Wednesday, after minimal debate.
“We’re all on the same page,” City Manager Mark Dixson said.
The biggest change in the budget for the next fiscal year is the increase in funding allocated for the Joyce K. Carver Memorial Library, which went up 36 percent from last year, Dixson said. The building expansion completed in January resulted in the need for an additional librarian and part-time library page; expenditures for travel and training, materials and supplies and office supplies were also increased.
A 3.1 percent cost of living increase to the non-represented salary schedule, a 2.5 increase to the Public Service Employees Associated, and higher workers compensation rates resulted in an increase in projected expenses, Dixson said.
While healthcare rates from the State of Alaska political subdivision increase 3.1 percent annually, the city’s total expenditures for healthcare decreased by $26,998 due to changes in individual employee coverage.
Besides changes within its operating budget, Soldotna is revising how they are determine the 2015 capital budget, Dixson said. The operating and capital budgets are usually combined.
The work session for the capital budget will take place before the June 25 Council meeting. The procedure is not uncommon, Dixson said.
Capital Budget funds will go directly toward projects designed in the Envision Soldotna 2030, the city’s Comprehensive Plan, City Planner Stephanie Queen said.
Currently $1.3 million has been set aside from the operating budget, for capital projects, Dixson said. That number is not necessarily what will be needed. The end result may be higher or lower, he said.
Dixson said the reason is to focus on what needs to get done and not force projects to be carried out based on numbers.
Components in the budget are generally estimated on the higher end of things, Dixson said. For example this fall there will be four new city council members, who will require travel and training expenses, the total of which is not certain at this time.
Other areas such as operations and maintenance supplies are also projected to be higher, Dixson said
Expenditures for the 2015 budget were approved at about $13.7 million and revenues are projected to be $13.5 million for a deficit of $205,534.
Dixson said discrepancies in budget revenues and expenditures are common. At the end of the 2013 fiscal year, there was $677,396 left over.
“I am not worried about it,” Dixson said of the shortfall.
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