SALEM - City Council approved budget appropriations for 2013 on Tuesday, with expected general fund expenses of $4,787,641 for next year, total revenue of $4,414,541 and a carryover from this year of a little less than $1 million.
"Each fund does balance, it's a balanced budget," city Auditor Betty Brothers said.
Brothers addressed questions during the Finance Committee meeting prior to the council meeting, with the committee agreeing 3-0 to recommend the ordinance for passage by council.
Council passed the measure 7-0, holding all three readings at once and including the emergency clause so it takes effect immediately.
Mayor John Berlin credited Brothers for her hard work in getting the budget completed before the end of the year. Normally, city council approves a temporary budget to start the year and cover the first three months before approving the final budget for the year.
Brothers wanted to get the budget done early so the city could start the year with a full year of appropriations instead of doing the temporary and then doing it again three months later.
"The city's still in good shape," she said, adding, "I'm just cautious for the end of next year, due to all the state cuts."
She was referring in particular to the Local Government Fund which was cut in half the last two years.
The bulk of the city's revenue in the general fund, which covers the core offices such as the administration, police, fire, auditor's office and treasurer's office, all comes from the city's 1 percent income tax.
She estimated income tax revenue next year of $4.15 million, with $3,308,391 of that going to the general fund and the rest going to debt repayment and capital improvements. The city follows an 85 percent/15 percent tax split, with 85 percent going to general fund and 15 percent to debt and capital improvements.
During the committee meeting, some of the discussion involved the debt for the infrastructure improvements in the TIF (tax increment finance) zones and the fact that the income the city expected from the development in the Home Depot area wasn't covering the debt payment.
Berlin pointed out that without that upfront investment to extend Bentley Drive to Cunningham or Pershing Street to Butcher Road, the city wouldn't be looking at some of the economic opportunities being looked at now. He said there's good and bad on both sides.
Treasurer Bob Tullis reported the income tax receipts as of Nov. 30 totaled $4,032,718, which represents a 3.9 percent increase over last year's total at this time of year and there's still a month to go. He also reported the income tax amnesty program brought in at least $26,637 of additional income.
He said the city sent out 778 letters to taxpayers with issues with their accounts. Once the collection program begins at the beginning of the year with the collection agency, people will have to deal with the agency through the city of Cleveland instead of the Salem city office. He said it's a lot easier to deal with the Salem city income tax office rather talking to some people on the phone.
In other business, the Finance Committee agreed to recommend an increase in the starting wage for the still-open recreation supervisor's position in the Parks and Recreation Department.
Parks Director Steve Faber explained that the recreation supervisor retired in June and anyone new hired into the position would revert to step one on the pay scale, which was set at $7.87 per hour. He said that's less than what a lifeguard makes and it's a supervisory position and considered the second-in-command in the parks department.
He requested an increase to $10.87 for the starting wage, with step 2 at $11.30 an hour and step 3 at $11.63 per hour. The city Parks Commission approved the request to be forwarded to city council, with Faber noting the increase was already allowed for in the parks department budget.
The parks department relies solely on tax levy funds for operations, along with rental fees for park facilities. The city gives no general fund money to the parks.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org