Corsicana — Join the discussion on this story by using the Facebook app to the right
The Corsicana City Council was presented with a finished budget Thursday that includes the following:
• Money for streets in each precinct as well as downtown, which is treated to its own slice of the pie for the first time;
• Replacement equipment for the public works department, as well as some big-ticket items for the wastewater treatment plant and landfill;
• Three new EMS firefighters for the ambulance service;
• A part-time code enforcement officer, and some money for grant writing;
• Another replacement culvert, this time for Bowie Drive at Post Oak Creek;
• A small grant to cover cleaning of windows or facades in downtown;
The budget — coming in at about $17 million in the General Fund — doesn’t include raises or bonuses for the city workers, although non-director-level employees are included in the city’s step plan, which gives automatic raises every other year, as well as seniority pay for civil service workers, and wellness pay, which reimburses employees for sick leave if they didn’t use it. If the city ends the year in a positive financial frame, City Manager Connie Standridge asked the council to give the one-time bonuses that were given out last year.
Most governments are advised to keep at least 90 days worth of operating expenses on hand at all times. In this budget, Corsicana has about 78 or 79 days worth. This new budget, if the predictions turn out correctly, will have the city at 83.95 days on Oct. 1, 2013, the starting date of the next fiscal year.
“It’s not your 90 days, but it’s not bad,” Standridge told the council.
Having less this year was a conscious decision to take out of the fund balance and spend more on streets, Mayor Chuck McClanahan said.
Half the city’s general budget is spent in the police and fire departments. The utility fund, which is water and sewer, will have a slightly higher fund balance next October, reflecting higher sewer bills and slightly lower water bills. The city is hoping to build up the fund balance to help pay for the Lake Halbert Water Treatment plant expansion. That project isn’t on the books yet, but has been pushed back about five years.
Ambulance calls were down last year, so the city adjusted the budget to expect less. During a five minute council meeting Thursday, the council agreed to an agreement with John Peter Smith Hospital to enter into an indigent medical provision program which could net the city more in unpaid ambulance bills. The difference could theoretically be as much as $500,000 next year, Standridge said.
What this budget doesn’t include is any money to address the erosion problem on the creek near Community Park that’s threatening the Oakwood Cemetery. One heavy rain could have devastating results along that embankment, Standridge said. However, the project is expected to cost about $220,000, which the city doesn’t have now without dipping into its fund balance. The council asked to be kept updated on the problem throughout the year.
Janet Jacobs may be reached via email at email@example.com. Want to “Soundoff” to this article? Email: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com