Mayor gives council new budget to review

Published 4:31 pm Saturday, February 3, 2018

Selma Mayor Darrio Melton has given Selma City Council members a proposed budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

The budget totals $17.9 million with $16.8 million in projected revenue and $1.1 million in grant reimbursements and other revenues.

Melton said the proposed budget includes a 30 percent cut across the board in operation costs, as well as the elimination of 27 unfilled positions.

“Because of our decreased revenue, and no potential revenue increases pending from the council, we had to make cuts to departments in the form of operating costs, personnel and other city paid services,” Melton said.

Cutting those 27 positions will reduce expenses by $450,000.

He said the four goals of this budget are increasing the reserve fund balance, which was at $650 in October, reducing the city’s debt load, reducing taxpayer burden, being more efficient and economical in making purchases and maximizing revenues and costs.

“We’ve got to remain solvent as a city. We’re not the federal government. We can’t go and print money,” Melton said.

Melton said the fund balance needs to be 10 to 20 percent of the city’s operational costs.

Revenue from 2016 was $18.5 million, and in 2017, revenue was close to $17.4 million.

“Over the past two years, we have seen a decline in sales tax revenue, which prompted us to lower our fiscal year’s revenue estimates,” Melton wrote in a budget narrative summary.

According to the summary, sales tax revenue was $9.8 million and the half-cent sales tax was $1.2 million in 2016. In 2017, sales tax was $10.2 million, and the half-cent sales tax was just over $416,000.

Projected sales tax revenue for 2018 is $9.3 million and $1.1 million for the half-cent sales tax. Projected ad valorem taxes are $3.4 million and revenue from business licenses is projected at $2.5 million, which is a decrease of nine percent from 2016 and a two percent decrease from 2017.

Expenditures in 2018 are projected to be $17.7 million, a half of a percent increase from 2017. Expenditure increases in 2018 are due to a bond payment and mandatory landfill requirements to build new cells.

The budget includes a 100 percent reduction of discretionary funds for members of the council. Previously, council members received $10,000 each to spend on projects in their wards and other expenses. Melton said the cut was due to the depleted reserve account.

There are several noticeable decreases to department budgets. The mayor’s office budget has a $53,000 decrease. The council’s budget reflects a nearly $100,000 decrease. Planning and Development has a $109,000 cut. The grant match fund reflected an increase of $219,000 for a total of $365,000. The budget for the Summer Youth Program was cut by $22,000. It decreased from $81,000 to $59,000. Public Building’s budget shows a $165,000 decrease.

Public works saw a cut of nearly $357,000.

The Fire Department’s budget increased by $244,000. The budget includes two fire investigators and the purchase of new software.

The city’s recreation department has a $128,000 cut. Long-term debt service increased by $484,000.

The budget must now be reviewed by the council and voted on before it is put into place.