City Council gets proposed budget April 7

Published 3:06 pm Saturday, March 29, 2014

Washington’s City Council meets at 5:30 p.m. April 7 to receive the proposed budget for the upcoming 2014-2015 fiscal-year budget.

City Manager Brian Alligood will present the budget, which was put together will input from the council and assistance from the city’s department heads. The city must have a budget in place by June 30. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

The council began preliminary work on the upcoming budget in January.

Reducing the transfer of revenue from the city’s electric fund to its general fund remains a top priority for the council, if the city can afford to continue to do that, according to several council members.

In a meeting in January, Councilman Doug Mercer proposed to reduce that transfer to $250,000 in the 2014-2015 budget.

In recent budget years, the council continued to decrease the amount of money the city transfers from the electric fund to the general fund. During those years, the council has cut that annual transfer from about $1.1 million to $470,000, the transfer amount in the existing budget. The council’s goal is to eliminate that annual transfer.

Mercer, as he does regularly at the beginning of a budget-developing process, came up with a list of budget-related items for the council to consider. Among them are several suggestions to make the city more fiscally sound, he said.

Mercer said he would like to “minimize” transfers from the city’s fund balance (rainy-day fund) to all of the city’s cost centers. Mercer also wants to make sure the city’s fees and rates are adequate so they provide enough revenue to “cover our continuation budget.” If those rates are not where they need to be, he said, the city must adjust those rates to increase revenue or cut expenditures.

“We cannot continue to live off the fund balance,” Mercer said. “Eventually, it’s going to go away. It’s just like your personal savings account. You can take out so much every month, but, eventually, it goes away.”

After receiving the proposed budget April 7, council members will hold several budget work sessions to modify the budget before it’s adopted, likely in late May or June.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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