Residents' chance to speak about city

Jun. 07, 2014 @ 06:21 PM

Residents will have the chance to speak at Monday night’s meeting before the city council votes on the $37 million proposed budget, which includes a strained $15.2 million general fund that will operate another year without contingency monies — or rainy day funds.

The hearing is an opportunity for the public to provide input and comments on the proposed budget.

“There is no contingency fund for the general fund,” said City Manager Ray Griffin. “It’s always been cut as part of budget balancing because it’s just not there, which means we are dependent on using the undesignated fund balance if we have a serious need.”

The general fund is $104,000 less than the budget adopted last fiscal year.

He said relying on the undesignated fund balance — which serves as a rainy day fund to provide one-time appropriations — is a slippery slope.

In 2005, Henderson’s undesignated fund balance fell from $4.5 million in fiscal year 2000 to $22,268 six years later.

The North Carolina Local Government Commission requires that localities maintain a fund balance at least 8 percent of the total budget.

Griffin said the city was using the fund balance for paying recurring expenses and it wasn’t being replenished as fast as it was being spent.

At the end of fiscal year 2008, the fund balance had recovered to 13.8 percent, or $2.1 million.

Last fiscal year, the unassigned fund balance had grown to $2,966,287, or 22.3 percent of the budget.

Griffin said the goal is to achieve 30 percent of budget in unassigned funds.

Though the budget does not include an increase in the tax rate or sanitation fee, those are the main sources of generating revenue for the city.

There is a 5 percent increase in the water rate, translating into roughly 69 cents more each month and $8.28 more each year based on usage of nearly 6,000 gallons per month.

The sewer rate would increase 3 percent, which would cost an additional $1.65 per month and $19.80 per year based on nearly 6,000 gallons per month.

City councilwoman Sara Coffey said she thought Griffin prepared a no-frills budget.

“We all did what we could do to get it worked out, and we were agreeable with the results,” she said. “I do feel it will be adopted.”

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.