The Girard City Council began its annual battle of the budget Monday night with the first of four scheduled sessions to estimate revenues and plan expenditures for 2013.
“Last year’s audit was late and we didn’t have a chance to sit down with each department for it, but this year we have done that,” said Gary Emry, city administrator. “In this first session, we’ve got 14 areas to review, and though a lot of the work has been done, that doesn’t mean we’re not open to dialogue.”
Debra Smith handed out budget worksheets that listed line items from each department, with figures covering what was budgeted two years ago, what was budgeted last year and the current budget, as well as the actual revenues and expenditures for those years.
Areas included general fund revenues and general fund expenses and expenses of the Police Department, Fire Department, Community Development, Municipal Court, Streets, the Parks Department, which includes the swimming pool, Crawford Hills Golf Course, the Girard Civic Center, including the Senior Citizens Center and the Roye facility, Girard Cemetery, Sewer revenues and expenses, Water revenues and expenses, Electric revenues and expenses, Electric Administration, Electric Production, Electric Transmission and Distribution.
Some sections of the worksheets will have to be completed by a CPA, but other items were discussed, including travel expenses for city employees attending conferences and classes.
“I’ve stopped traveling as much as I was, and stopped going to water and fire conferences because there was so much repetition,” Emry said. “Some of those expenses could be paid into a trip to the International City Managers Association convention to see if it’s of value.”
Council member Melody Cherry said that she was a fan of conventions.
“I go, we come back and learn,” she said. “I personally would like to see Gary go if he wants.”
Some department expenses previously budgeted, such as for radio maintenance and repair, will probably be reduced or “zeroed out” because the city departments recently replaced their old radio equipment with new.
Other departments, such as Streets, will likely need increases for equipment. The Streets Department has requested a new sign maker computer and software to meet new state law requirements and the 1999 street sweeper is in dire need of replacement.
“Dick Burns is presently using a 1988 service truck and really needs to get a new used truck,” Emry said.
Regarding the swimming pool, Emry said that great strides had been made, but that more repairs are needed.
“Now that the pool is holding water for us, if we put $50,000 or $60,000 into it, that might take the pool another 15 years for us,” the city administrator said. “Then we might look at a new pool.”
Page 2 of 2 - The last area for discussion was the Girard Public Library, but Emry said he would prefer to discuss that when Terri Harley, library director, was present to provide information.
The second budget session will be conducted during the July 16 regular council meeting and will include a review of benefits, including employee health insurance. The third session will be July 23, and a first draft of the budget should be done. It will come back for a final review at the regular meeting on July 30. Final approval is scheduled for Aug. 13.