Tuesday, October 29th, 2013
By William Kincaid
Celina officials expect at least $2M carryover
  CELINA - The city is poised to start next year with a general fund carryover of at least $2 million, council members learned Monday night.
"We're just looking really good," city auditor Betty Strawn said during the personnel and finance committee session held prior to the regular council meeting.
City officials initially projected a general fund carryover of $2.34 million, but as of the end of September, the year-end unencumbered balance is estimated at $2.86 million.
That number will drop by at least $400,000 before the end of the year, as council members on Monday night passed the first reading of an ordinance to appropriate that amount into the waterline replacement fund.
"This is for (the) East Wayne Street project next year," city safety service director Tom Hitchcock said. "In the budget, there's a $500,000 expense to replace that waterline. We currently don't have enough money in that account."
Celina Mayor Jeff Hazel said the city should start 2014 with at least a $2 million carryover.
"The real estate taxes came in a little bit higher than what we had projected for the year; we just received a check for like $17,800 in September that brought us over the total that we were expecting," Strawn said.
Municipal income and estate taxes, too, came in higher than expected, she said.
As of the end of September, 83 percent of the year's anticipated general fund revenue or $5.8 million, had been collected, and 76.5 percent of the year's anticipated expenditures had been made.
"The good news is revenue is up, expenditures are down," councilman Jeff Larmore said. "Things are looking OK at this point."
Council members discussed the 2014 budget, which they hope to finalize before the year's end, with first reading of the ordinance likely to be held at the next regular meeting on Nov. 11.
"I'd like to see these budgets completely blessed and done and hit-the-road sometime in January," Larmore said, adding he doesn't like to start a new year with a temporary appropriation for the first quarter.
The capital project list contains only essential expenditures likely to be made next year, Hitchcock said.
"Since we're budgeting under estimated revenue, the department heads don't have the luxury of just putting fluff in the budget," he said. "So they're putting in their actual needs that they want to get accomplished next year."
"I kind of like this idea (that) it's not a wish list anymore," councilman June Scott said.
"And if something pops up, then they can come back to us," Larmore added.
According to preliminary projections, next year's general fund will have $7.07 million in revenue and $7.04 million in expenditures.
The 2014 budget of all city funds is temporarily set at $38.56 in revenue and $38.51 in expenses. The city expects to spend $38.5 million this year.
Council's personnel and finance committee will meet again at 6 p.m. Monday in the new city administration building on Main Street to continue discussing the 2014 budget.
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