The city of Cherokee Village is still facing uncertainty in regard to its 2011 budget.
Following a financial task force meeting, June 2, designated to clarify some questions regarding the amount of money the city needs to cut back, Mayor Lloyd Hefley stated to the council would review the items line by line at the July 7 meeting.
Many were present for the meeting and had questions, as Executive Assistant Terry Romans attempted to clarify budgetary questions.
Figures have ranged from the city reportedly operating on reserve funds in the amount of over $400,000 to needing to cut back $270,000 for the upcoming 2012 year.
When asked what the actual number the city was looking at, Mayor Hefley referred the question to Romans.
Romans produced a spreadsheet indicating the city is facing a deficit of $162,775 between June and December 2011.
A slide show presented by Romans examined revenue and expenses in administration and fire and street funds. The numbers reflect, if the city continues bringing in revenues as projected and curtails spending, the city should have to use very little of its cash reserves.
However, the numbers for the 2012 year indicate the City of Cherokee Village will have to increase revenue by at least $163,000 in order to maintain its current cash reserve level. This estimate removed one time expenditures, special projects and FEMA revenues, which the city cannot depend on annually.
Romans said the main reason for revenue shortfalls is the city has not received as much SID assessment revenues for the Street and Fire Departments as last year and these departments do not generate enough revenue to overcome the shortfall.
Members of council discussed many possibilities to raise revenues, but only minor ways to cut expenses.
Suggestions besides the one percent proposed sales tax included discussion about an advertising and promotions tax, a franchise fee and a millage increase.
One member of council said city departments are doing such things as turning the air conditioning to a higher temperature.
According to Lynn Maxedon, this will only save a fraction of what the city actually needs to cut back.
He also explained the city's expenses will increase in 2012 and the 2011 figures are not an accurate representation of actual projected expenses.
Other discussion included setting an amount the city will cover on employee health insurance and require employees to pay the additional cost.
Maxedon said, "It is time we do this like a non-government entity."
Alderwoman Verna Mae Newman was opposed to requiring employees to pick up the extra cost because she said they haven't received raises. The topic was left undecided, to be revisited in 2012.
Newman questioned the amount the city would gain by increasing the millage, which is currently 2 mills. Currently the millage is designated for the street department only.
The mayor informed Newman the city could designate the millage increase to go to needs it desired. He said the annual amount that comes to the city as a result of each mill is $47,000. Cherokee Village can increase its millage from 2 to 5 mills, but the issue would require a council vote.
The council voted to hold a special election for the 1% sales tax proposal in the meeting following the task force meeting.
During Roman's presentation, many were concerned with Animal Control, a department which has only $34 of the $5,000 budgeted for animal food.
During this discussion, former Alderman Peter Martin interjected there were never parameters set for animal control when the department was established, stating, "It has gone from an animal control to a humane society."
Chief Rickey Crook then spoke to council, explaining when the budget was made, he told them they needed more assistance with food, but council still set the amount at $5,000. He said he made it clear that this would not be enough.
Crook said council set the number hoping the non-profit entity would be able to get food from suppliers and donations.
Alderman Jerry Adams said, "I just don't think it is wise to keep running it and hoping for donations while other departments are cutting everywhere."
A member of the non-profit AHAH, established to raise money for the shelter, then spoke up, explaining that, due to the recent natural disasters, the shelter was at the bottom of the list with dog food companies for receiving food.
The representative added that they were trying to resolve the problem.
After Romans presented a second, extensive spreadsheet detailing revenues and expenses for every city department for calendar years 2009-2011, the council decided to move forward with a budget revision session at its July 7 meeting.