City Council Amends, Approves 2023 General Fund Budget
The City Council unanimously passed the 2023 general fund budget during Monday night’s voting session following 27 amendments to the 2023 executive budget.
Finance Committee Chairwoman Kim Ecklund explained that multiple mistakes were found in the 2023 executive budget, leading the City Council to approve changes to the budget.
Following the approval of the 2023 general fund budget, Ecklund told reporters that while she did not want to call anyone out or point fingers, the mistakes in the initial budget added up to a significant amount of money.
“I’m a numbers person, and I asked for the ‘nitty gritty’ down to every line item in the budget,” she said. “Going through each line item and each detailed item in that budget, I analyzed every line from expenses to salaries and found some things that were missed, some things that were doubled. It was roughly around $400,000. Adding in the $127,000 of the revenue issue that council felt very strongly about, it was about $500,000.”
The City Council adjusted multiple line items Monday to reflect the amount of money the City Council believes will be needed for each department over the course of 2023. The City Council members explained that different budget lines were increased or decreased due to the actual amount of money spent during 2022 as opposed to the budgeted amount.
One of the largest items removed from the 2023 executive budget was $157,500 in bond principal expenditure.
“That was one item in particular that was there, that should not have been in the budget,” Ecklund said.
Despite concerns over sales tax revenue in 2023 with the issue of inflation, the City Council projected an additional $75,000 in sales tax revenue. Ecklund explained that the projected sales tax revenue is not guaranteed with the current economy, but expressed optimism that the economy could improve by next year.
“It’s always a gamble,” she said. “I have concerns, and I’ve made that very clear to every council member in this process. Although I’m willing to accept it and move forward, you don’t know what the economy is going to do next week, much less next month.”
The City Council also passed amendments to adjust parking violations revenue by $40,000 and emergency medical services revenue by $50,000.
After receiving input from the community, the City Council passed an amendment to remove the city administration’s plan to double the cost of parking meters in Jamestown. The removal of the parking meter increase resulted in a $127,000 decrease in projected revenue for 2023, which was adjusted for in the general fund budget.
After passing various amendments to increase and decrease different department budgets, the City Council passed an amendment to allocate an additional $54,879 from the city’s fund balance for the 2023 general fund budget.
Between the Mayor’s appropriation of $250,000 from the city’s fund balance and the City Council’s addition of $54,879, Ecklund said the city’s fund balance will “hopefully” be $5.8 million at the end of the 2023 fiscal year.
City Council President Anthony Dolce, R-Ward II told The Post-Journal the annual budget is “always a difficult process,” with various disagreements about what should and should not be included in the general fund budget. Nevertheless, he believes the approved budget is a good balance for the city.
“I think overall the budget process went very well,” he said. “A lot of work goes into it and a lot of time and a lot of questions. This year was a little different because a lot of the American Rescue Plan Act funding was utilized for some of the things we didn’t have to budget for.”
Despite the use of ARPA over the past several months to alleviate the need for various expensive purchases in the 2023 budget, Dolce said the City Council still tried to include necessary equipment purchases for the Jamestown Police Department and Fire Department.
“We tried to do a combination of both,” he said.
Dolce explained that although there were challenges in this year’s budget, the council was determined not to increase taxes on city residents.
“Our main goal was obviously we weren’t going to raise taxes,” he said. “We looked at the revenue lines and there were a number of errors with the budget.”
After amending the errors with the 2023 budget, Dolce said the budget required additional allocation from the fund balance.
“Obviously we don’t want to use too much of the fund balance,” he said. “With the mayor’s allotment of $250,000 and our just over $54,000 it just puts us slightly over $300,000. Last year, we allocated over $750,000, so it’s less than half of last year’s allocation.”