City of Newberry staff will continue to remain focused on providing a high level of customer service for the fiscal year 2019-2020 as laid out in the city’s proposed budget. The city’s proposed budget is balanced without any increases in taxes or business license fees, however there is a small incremental increase in the sanitation services schedule.

City Manager Matt DeWitt informed council at their two budget work sessions this week that balancing the proposed budget had become increasingly more difficult given the relatively flat growth in revenue over the last several years.

The proposed budget discussed this week was balanced at $10,158,403, an increase of $320,675, or three percent, compared to last year. DeWitt said there had been no city millage increase in over eight years and for that reason, city staff recommended exploring possible outstanding annexation agreements that may be viable.

The general fund revenues, DeWitt said are projected to be $10,064,349 which represents an increase of $603,551 over the current year’s projections.

A decrease of $100,000 in court fine forfeiture revenues is scheduled the coming year as the line item has been trending down the last few years and DeWitt said city staff felt it was unreasonable to budget for revenue that would not be produced by year’s end.

Also under revenue, the proposed budget is recommended to eliminate one free pick-up of each commercial garbage bin, continuing with last year’s trend and making the service more fiscally solvent. DeWitt said the city’s commercial garbage service still remained one of the cheapest commercial garbage services available. This adjustment would yield an increase of $36,750 to general fund revenues.

This proposed change would mean each commercial bin would receive one free pick-ups each month as opposed to the two per month they currently receive.

Proposed for FY20 is a one dollar increase on residential garbage, bringing the total cost to $13 per bin, per month, per customer. DeWitt said even with the increase, the city would be relatively lower than its competitors at residential garbage pickup. This service provides three pick-ups per household per week to include refuse, white goods and yard debris.

General Fund Expenditures

The total expenditures in the general fund next year are projected to be $10,158,403 as compared to $9,837,728 in FY19. This represents an increase of roughly three percent or $320,675.

Under the line item of Justice and Law, DeWitt said there was a decrease of $45,833 from FY19 to FY20 reflective of a lower than projected state assessment, as current revenues were not on track again this year and over the past several years had tracked behind forecasted projections. The line item was reduced to be more reflective of what the city may be spending in state assessments.

The budget for the police department, totaling $2,056,798 shows an increase of $205,222 over the prior year attributed directly to proposed salary increases and IT upgrades to current and new squad cars. DeWitt reminded council that in FY19, two less squad cars were budgeted than in the current proposal.

“The city has continued to budget local residency stipends and has added a sign on bonus program to help attract already certified officers to the city’s department,” he said. Currently the city’s police department has four vacancies. The state average, DeWitt said for a department the city’s size is around eight, so he felt like the city’s department was ahead of the curve.

Under the fire department line item, the budget is projected to total $1,682,453, which is an increase of $499,615 over the current year’s budget. The increase, DeWitt said was reflective of a new fire truck planned to be purchased in FY20. The former fire truck (1996) DeWitt proposed to be donated to the Newberry County Career Center for use within their Firefighter I and II Certification program.

their fire program as they currently do not have one.

City staff that oversees fire recruitment county-wide is half budgeted under this line item as the county has agreed to continue to pay the other half of the position’s salary and benefits and provide the position’s transportation.

The Public Works Street department is projected to total $816,532, which is an increase of $178,472 over the previous fiscal year. The increase is attributed to projected CTC funds increase. DeWitt reminded council it was important to keep in mind that the funds would not be expended if not secured prior by city staff.

The line item of the Public Works Sanitation department has proposed to decrease by $77,502 in the upcoming fiscal year due to the purchase of a Residential Garbage Truck in the prior year. DeWitt said that the capital under this line item had a small rear load garbage truck scheduled for the upcoming fiscal year that would take care of downtown, events and narrow roadways in town.

Expenditures for the Parks, Recreation and Tourism department are projected to be $741,422 which is a decrease of $267,078 when compared to the prior year. The main fluctuation, DeWitt said was due to a decrease in capital requests scheduled in FY19.

Under the line item of Community Promotions, this expenditure category is proposed to increase by $84,834 for a total of $201,709. This increase is a result of a request for $35,000 of reoccurring support requested by the Newberry Museum, DeWitt said and $49,834 in fiber reimbursement from the general fund to the utility fund.

In the Special Funds line item of the Local Hospitality and Accommodations Fund, the source of funding is the two percent tax levied on the sale of food and beverage and the three percent tax levied on lodging and accommodations in the city. DeWitt said for FY20, they anticipated receiving approximately $911,533.

The revenue received through the local hospitality and accommodations fund is transferred to other funds for promoting tourism. The proposed budget anticipates the following monies to be transferred to the following funds: the Newberry Opera House ($326,344), Oakland Tennis Center ($50,000), the new recreation complex ($75,000) and the Firehouse Conference Center ($125,000) will receive the majority of these funds.

The proposed budget also contains a $63,000 transfer into the Japanese Garden fund. DeWitt said they hoped to make this transfer in FY20 and FY21 in order to complete deferred maintenance in the Wells Japanese Garden as it was a site that drew tourists to town and city staff wants it to look its very best.

Under the line item of the Community Housing Development fund, which allocates funding for special projects, the budget is projected to contain $375,454 or a decrease of $43,000 from the year prior. The line item contains $350,000 for the development of the city’s new recreational complex and continued support of the city’s relationship with retail strategies at $25,000.

The Oakland Tennis Complex budget contains revenue projections of $84,678. On the expenditure side, personnel will consist of one tennis pro and several part-time interns from Newberry College. DeWitt said the college would continue to be a partner and help fund the facility at $26,000 annually.

The recreation complex budget for FY20 is proposed to total $1,354,235 and is reflective of still having construction remaining to finish at the site in the upcoming fiscal year. DeWitt said only a partial year operating budget had been completed for the running of the entire facility and that next year’s budget should yield a more typical budget number in which the facility would run normally for an entire fiscal year.

Proposed for the upcoming fiscal year, is a one percent merit pool and three percent Cost of Living Adjustment for all employees. DeWitt said last year the city was only able to issue a one percent merit increase only for employees.

The Use of Fund Balance to balance the proposed FY20 budget is $70,673 which is a decrease use of fund balance of $306,357 over FY19. The city’s overall general fund budget request has increased by $340,294 in FY20 in order to maintain a very high level of service, DeWitt said that customers had grown to known and expect while continuing to advance projects that would make Newberry a hallmark of smaller rural communities in the country.

The first reading of the proposed budget will be conducted by City Council on Tuesday, June 11 at 7 p.m.