During a mid-year budget update, Guthrie City Manager Leroy Alsup was quick to point out that the City is not broke or bankrupt, but if they continued their current spending ways they could go down that path.
Alsup, who assumed the City’s top position in February, spoke to the city council last week during a workshop.
After breaking down the 2016-17 fiscal year budget projection with each City department, Alsup says the City was projected to spend $633,513 more than the anticipated revenue for the same time period.
Last fiscal year, the City was $374,863 in expenditures over revenue in the general fund and over spent the last two years ($150,746) in the Guthrie Public Works Authority (GPWA) fund.
In order to adjust the budget and operate within means, Alsup and department heads were forced to realign staff, including cutting and eliminating positions. In total, three positions were eliminated and one reduction in force (layoff). Other employees were reassigned within the departments.
“While nobody likes reductions or cutting back for the most part the departments have bought into this plan,” Alsup said.
A mechanical helper in Fleet Maintenance, planning coordinator in the Planning Department and a code enforcement officer in the Police Department were eliminated effective immediately. The fourth layoff came in the Parks Department.
In addition, seven positions will be left unfilled, including three firefighters, one police officer, economic developer, line equipment operator and a maintenance worker. Other positions will be transferred within departments.
The Guthrie Fire Department will go from shifts of nine to eight and code enforcement will now be handled by Animal Control.
Maxine Pruitt, who serves as the Public Works Director, will soon be retiring. Her position will be taken over by Tenny Maker, who serves as the Street Superintendent. Maker will assume responsibility for both departments, but the Street Department Supt. position will remain opened while adding an equipment operator.
Richard Romine, who serves as the Waste Water Treatment Plant Supervisor, will also soon retire and the position will be overlooked by the current Water Treatment Plant Supervisor.
Building Inspector Jim Henke is expected to retire next fiscal year and will work part-time.
The mid-year budget shows to fill two positions (Planning Director and Building Inspector) and a company (Retail Attractions) to bring new businesses to the City.
Following all the reductions in the general fund, the City remains $39,908 over budget, but is a far cry from $195,680.
“We are not quite where we need to be, but its good progress,” Alsup said.
More work is to be done in the GPWA fund. What was a $312,789 deficit is now $148,893.
Inside the Numbers
According to Alsup, the General Fund was going to spend $195,680 in projected expenditures over the projected revenue. In the GPWA Fund, $312,789 was anticipated to be spent over projected revenue. Finally, the Guthrie Fire Department was expected to go over projected revenue of $102,544.
After factoring in beginning fund balances for each, the City is expected to have a balance of $4447,007. The targeted year-end balance is a million dollars ($500,000 each in the general and GPWA funds).
Alsup pointed out the General Stabilation Fund Balance sets at $789,000 and $512,000 in the GPWA Stabilation Fund Balance. The goal for each “savings account” is a million dollars each. However, city council members learned that $206,000 of the General Stabilation Fund was moved into the account, which is earmarked for a proposed downtown street improvement project. In that scenario, it leaves the emergency fund at $789,000.
Alsup pinned a few factors with increased expenditures, including overtime with the police department, an agreement with Guthrie Public Schools and the lawsuit agreement with Rural Water.
The City lost 411 water customers in the Rural Water lawsuit, which will cost the City $150,000 a year. Related article: City of Guthrie and Rural Water end 11-year lawsuit
Last summer the council agreed to a one year contract to grant the school district a reduction in utilities and school security. The City made the move to benefit the school district, who was seeing cuts in state funding. In total, $161,000 was the cost to the City ($95,000 in utilities and $66,000 in two school resource officers). The fiscal year budget of 2017-18 currently budgets for the two school resource officers. Related article: City council provides “life preserver” for Guthrie Public Schools
Alsup says the City has researched and found that a court cost of a municipal ticket is at a standard rate of $30 compared to the City’s current $21.
If the City were go to the standard rate of $30 it would generate an estimated $22,000 in additional funds.
The city manager added that communities have begun adding a technology fee to municipal tickets to help aid technology for the City.
The price ranges from $15 to $40 throughout the state. Alsup says if the City elected to go with a $25 fee, it could possibly bring in an additional $60,000. The funds would then go to help with the City’s software programs and computer uses.