Some city fees are expected to increase
The Kosciusko Board of Aldermen will hold a hearing on the city budget for the coming year at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 25. Fiscal Year 2021 begins Oct. 1.
Cockroft said Fiscal Year 2020, which ends Sept. 30, may be the first year in many that the city’s tradition of underestimating revenue and overestimating expenses may not help the city avoid a year-end deficit. The city budgeted $3,852,400 in revenue and $4,622,100 in expenses, resulting in a $769,700 deficit on paper. Typically, the real numbers wind up allowing the city to at least break even, but this year, the city’s current financial forecast indicates a potential actual deficit of $55,000 with three months left in the fiscal year. If the deficit occurs, the city will make up for it out of its current surplus of about $2 million.
“It has worked out the last four years. If we are in the hole $55,000 at the end of this year, it will be the first time in five years we did not come out to the positive,” said Cockroft.
One of the reasons for the possible actual deficit has been the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which reduced Parks & Recreation’s expected revenue from $17,000 to an actual of only $4,000, and a reduction in splash pad revenue at Jason Niles Park from an expected $5,000 to only $500.
The dire expected loss of sales tax revenue, however, did not come to pass for Kosciusko.
“That has not had a really terrible effect on us money-wise,” said the mayor.
Cockroft said he remains hopeful that better-than-forecast revenue or less-than-expected expenses may result in the city making up that deficit without drawing funds from the surplus.
“I still think we’ll be positive when this is all said and done,” he said.
For FY21, the city is projecting revenue similar to FY20 at $3,857,400. With budgeted expenses estimated at $4,663,223, the city will show an $805,823 deficit on paper if the budget is approved on Aug. 25. But Cockroft said he believes the city will make up that potential deficit with higher than budgeted revenues and/or lower than budgeted expenditures.
The new budget, if approved, will see some increased charges for some city services, according to the mayor.
Wastewater fees will be increased to a $10 minimum charge plus $1.75 per 1,000 gallons of wastewater per household from the current $9 minimum charge plus $1.50 per 1,000 gallons of wastewater per household. For a 15,000-gallon residential user, that will mean a monthly increase in wastewater charges from $31.50 to $36.25.
The city sewer tap fee will be raised from $500 to $750, and the cost of a grave space in Parkway Cemetery will also increase from $500 to $750, with much of that money being set aside for the perpetual care fund to ensure the cemetery is well cared for.
Additional proposed expenditures include $41,000 to match USDA grant funds at a 55/45 rate to purchase three new police vehicles. The only problem with the program at this time is that vehicles are not currently available.
The city is also budgeting to purchase laptops for the Board of Aldermen so that the city can avoid printing so much of the material the board reviews for its meetings and in its decision-making.
Finally, Cockroft said there are some nominal raises budgeted for some city employees.