SYRACUSE -- City officials recently approved a $6.9 million budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, which ends a city practice of using city road funds to cover salaries, and includes $3.9 million in capital projects.
The city council voted unanimously to approve the tentative spending plan, while setting June 12 as the date to have a public hearing on the spending outline for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
The biggest increase in the proposed spending plan is moving salaries to the general fund, totaling $337,000. In past years some of the road funding has been used for city salaries, leaving little in some cases to address deteriorating roads.
The budget also includes a small stipend increase for members of the city's Planning Commission, bumping that amount from $25 to $50 per meeting. Councilman Craig Johnson proposed an amendment to remove that increase, but that measure failed 3-2.
By law, the city has until June 22 to adopt a final budget for the new fiscal year.
The budget holds the line on property taxes and fee increases; however, city officials noted that a $1 per household per month fee increase is being implemented by North Davis Sewer District and will be part of the utility bill sent to residents by the city.
In his budget message included in the spending outline, City Manager Robert Rice said the city's revenue stream indicates the recession is over. He said sales taxes are up 6.6 percent over the past 12 months, and building permits for the first four months of 2012 are up 10 percent from last year.
Rice stressed city leaders have been conservative in their revenue estimates and liberal on anticipated expenses. He noted the city's general fund balance is currently at 14.5 percent, and he said it is important to have a healthy balance in order to have a rainy day fund for unforeseen expenses.
The budget does aggressively address some of the city's outstanding bonds. Stephen Marshall, city finance director, said the budget calls for the city to reduce its outstanding bond debt by $918,000 in 2012-2013, while paying off two existing water bonds.
"This is the best the budget has looked in a long time," Councilman Larry Shingleton said of the proposal.
Johnson said he was especially glad to see the capital projects in the spending outline.