2003 has been an intense year of expenditure review and revenue scrutiny. Numerous cost saving measures, such as elimination of city payment for curbside recycling, the annual employee holiday party, and the city calendar were implemented. On the revenue side, many of our program and permit fees were adjusted to more closely align income with expenses. As a result of this comprehensive action plan, we were able to get through the year with no layoffs or reduction in essential city services.
In 2004, we will see the full benefit of the actions that were adopted in 2003. Additionally, we are starting to see some positive signs of economic recovery and our revenue forecast reflects this guarded optimism.
Expenditures for the 2004 Operating budget are proposed at $13,460,710 compared to $12,659,157 for 2003, and it is balanced with no further reduction of our reserve fund. After a one-year wage freeze, the Operating plan includes a 4% pay increase for all employees based on merit. No new programs or employees will be added in 2004.
On the Capital side, our plan calls for a 40% spending reduction from 2003 budget levels. There will be very little Federal funding and no utilization of bond proceeds. In fact, the only potential grant is the reimbursement for Vlasis Park tennis court reconstruction. This would come from the County Park tax. The Manchester Road sidewalk project represents our sole reliance upon Federal funding under the TEA-21 enhancement program.
While the Administration and Police proposals are actually below 2003 budget levels, an ambitious program is once again proposed for Parks and Public Works. Debt service for these latter 2 departments reflects 30% of the overall budget total.
The Public Works submission continues our commitment to street improvements. In the interest of achieving greater ward equity, our priorities (for the first time) reflect the weighted percentage of miles of streets within each ward. The total street commitment is down very slightly for 2004 due to proposed construction of a salt storage facility and expansion of the Public Works maintenance yard.
While the lion’s share of our Parks infrastructure is now complete, closure on pending projects will be emphasized. The parking issue at North Pointe, completion of Vlasis Park, and restoration of the old School House are primary considerations which have been addressed.
Overall, the 2004 Capital budget addresses a wide range of improvements while continuing our policy of pro-active vehicle and equipment replacement. The Operating budget provides the necessary resources to enable us to continue to provide the wide variety of top quality programs and services that you have come to expect as a member of this great community.
Robert E. Jones, Mayor