City officials seek ways to reduce projected shortfall

Published 8:07 pm Friday, January 29, 2016

Preliminary calculations indicate a possible shortfall between estimated revenues and estimated expenditures in the city’s upcoming general fund of nearly $750,000, according to the city’s chief finance officer.

That’s nothing new for the city, and that shortfall could shrink as he revises his revenue and expenditure projections for fiscal year 2016-2016, said Matt Rauschenbach, the city’s CFO and assistant city manager, during his presentation to the City Council last week. He was one of several city department heads providing the council information for use as it begins work on the upcoming budget, which takes effect July 1. The information was presented during the council’s strategic planning session with city staff.

Rauschenbach’s preliminary projections indicate an increase of $821,408 in general-fund expenditures from the current fiscal year to the next fiscal year, with an increase in revenues during that same period of $80,000, leaving the projected gap between revenue and expenditures at $741,408. The expenditures include appropriating nearly $350,000 from the city’s fund balance (general fund) to help balance the upcoming budget.

Upon questioning by some council members, Rauschenbach acknowledged that the city likely would see more revenue than projected for its general fund and some decline in the projected expenditures. He said his initial calculations regarding revenue were on the conservative side and his initial projections on the expenditure side were somewhat bloated, thereby allowing the council to prepare for a worst-case scenario when it comes to putting together the upcoming budget.

The council, during its budget deliberations, will seek ways to narrow the gap between projected revenues and projected expenditures in the general fund. Options include raising property taxes (increasing revenues), increasing fees and reducing expenditures, including reducing the city’s workforce. Reducing the city’s workforce is not an option he favors, said City Manager Bobby Roberson. According to Roberson, the likely option is to increase some fees (water, sewer, sanitation and others) to cover increases in providing those services.

Councilman Doug Mercer said that option makes sense, especially if those increases are small ones made on a regular basis and not a large increase that’s made every five years or so. City taxpayers would be more amenable to a 1 percent increase every year or two than to a 10-percent increase every five years.

For fiscal year 2014-2015, which ended June 30, 2015, the city took in $11,463,911 million in revenue for it general fund (before transfers and debt issued), spending $11,087,157, according to an audit report. That was not the case in the nine previous fiscal years.

For additional coverage of the planning session, see future editions of the Washington Daily News.





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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