FARMINGTON -- Don't count your sales tax before the stores even open.
That seems to be the budget message from City Manager Dave Millheim for the 2011-12 fiscal year, even as the city is prepared to see the first phases of the $250 million Station Park development project begin this year.
City officials are still early in the budget process, but Millheim said he expects to take a conservative approach to revenue and spending.
The new fiscal year begins July 1.
"We don't want to rely on Station Park revenue," Millheim said.
He said there will probably not be any numbers from Station Park's anticipated revenue built into the spending plan, even though some stores are expected to open in May.
Even without Station Park, Millheim said, city leaders expect a bump in revenue.
Census figures for the city show a pattern of growth, which means the state formula for tax distribution should lean more in its favor.
Millheim said the city may gain as much as $45,000 in additional sales tax, simply because of the census numbers.
It is early in the process, but both Millheim and Mayor Scott Harbertson said they are looking at the possibility of being able to give a raise to city employees.
Harbertson said he isn't recommending a cost-of-living adjustment but is leaning toward an increase in merit pay for city workers.
"I'd like to do something. It's been two years," the mayor said of a raise.
Harbertson said, as part of the budget process, city leaders will also look at possible additions to the city fire and police departments.
The first public hearing on the budget is scheduled for June 7, with June 21 set as the date the city council is expected to adopt the new spending plan.
City leaders adopted a $6.76 million budget last year, which held the line on taxes but increased water rates for residents.