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City Council, October 13

A “great budget year” up to end of August
But costs associated with recent flooding will take a toll
Marc Knapp

It was a lean agenda for the City Council meeting. As is usual at this time of year, it was held on Daniel Island in the Providence Baptist Church. For many of us, it was a long way to travel for little of substance.

Possibly the most interesting item was the projected savings in health care costs, with the Blue Cross /Blue Shield contract to fall $860,000 in fiscal 2106 compared with the current year’s projection. But this was not the only good news that Council members have received recently. In a memo circulated to Council members and dated September 23, City CFO Bedard exclaimed “the City is executing a great budget year to date”. And perusing the figures, his enthusiasm is justified. Revenues were well above and costs, well below budget. But the snap shot was only for the 8 months to the end of August.

Up until the end of August, revenues of the General Fund were $2.7 million above budget. The major contributors to the surplus were higher that projected income from license fees ($1.2 million) and $0.55 million in permit and other fees.

The expenditure side of the accounts was even better. For the 8 months to the end of August, total spending was $6.5 million below budget. Most cost centers incurred lower than budgeted expenditure but the major savings were in Police ($1.3 million), Budget Finance and Revenue ($1.4 million) and Fire ($ 0.7 million).

Adding the extra revenue to the costs savings, gives a figure of $9.2 million. And if you could simply extrapolate these figures, the 2015 budget could see a surplus of well over $10 million – not bad on a $150 million annual budget. Sadly, a simple extrapolation is not justified - the heavy rain and flooding of two weeks ago boosted costs in September and October. These costs will make a hole in the surplus though we doubt the surplus will be eliminated.

The City’s present financial position look very good and it will be one of the Mayor Riley’s legacies. It will also be a gift to the next Mayor, who he or she may be. Who knows, we might even see a reduction in taxes for next fiscal year, but don’t hold your breath.

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