Leader Blues

Monday, November 20, 2006

TOP STORY >>Jacksonville budget grows

IN SHORT: Mayor’s proposed draft of city’s 2007 general fund has expenditures at $15.5 million, up $1 million from 2006.

Leader staff writer

The first public draft of Jack-sonville’s 2007 budget has the city spending about $500,000 than it’ll take in.

Mayor Tommy Swaim and Finance Director Paul Mushrush presented the budget to the city council Thursday night. Both Swaim and Mushrush called the draft a “very rough draft.”

The budget projects 2007 revenues for the city’s general fund to be just over $15 million, up about 5 percent from 2006. Expendi-tures total $15,555,680, for a deficit of $466,253. Expenditures are up about $1 million over 2006.

Part of the increase, the mayor explained, has to do with health insurance for city employees, which is jumping up more than $200,000. “Our insurance is going up because it seems insurance always goes up, but also because our claims are greater than the premiums being collected,” Mush-rush explained.

Based on latest figures, city employees have filed for 26 percent more in claims than what they have paid in premiums.
“It makes it hard for us to get competitive rates when that happens,” Mushrush said.

The council discussed splitting the health insurance increase next year with its employees rather than picking up the entire increase. “It’s got to be some kind of split,” Aldermen Kenny Elliot said.

The other big expense, Mushrush said, is the cost of oil and gasoline, which has already taken a 10-cent turn upwards in the past two weeks.

“We get together and brainstorm and try to make sure we have enough in the budget so we don’t have to cut services late in the year,” Mushrush explained.

Nearly $190,000 is budgeted for vehicle gas and oil, and another $20,920 for tires and tire repair, up from the $160,402 and $14,536 from the 2006 budget.

Budgets for both the fire and police department are going up. The fire department is going from a 2006 budget of $3.08 million to a proposed 2007 budget of $3.23 million.

The police budget is going from $5.1 million to $5.4 million.

“There’s no surprises in there,” Mushrush said. “Most of the increase is either additional personnel or insurance increases.”
The proposed 2007 street fund expenditures are estimated at $2.13 million, while revenues are slated at $1.78 million.

The sanitation fund expenses for 2007 are estimated to be $1.49 million, while revenues are being placed at $1.25 million.
Proposed expenses for the 2007 emergency medical services fund are nearly twice as much as the estimated revenue.

Expenditures are slated at $813,806, while revenues are estimated at $499,100.

In other council business:
- Alderman gave the mayor permission to pursue efforts to buy a lot of land adjacent the Splash Zone. The council said the mayor could spend up to $20,000 of city money for the land. The land is needed for a possible parking lot. The water park has become so popular since opening up two years ago that patrons are having to park in a nearby church parking lot.

- Fire Chief John Vanderhoof, in his monthly report, told the council that his department responded to 92 rescue calls, 50 still alarms, 21 general alarms and had 184 ambulance runs during October.
Fire loss for the month was estimated at $63,100, while fire savings was placed at $179,400.