Proposed Harrodsburg budget reflects lean time

June 18, 2004|ANN R. HARNEY

HARRODSBURG - There are few surprises and some disappointments in this city's proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

A decision not to fill jobs left vacant by retirement or resignation may come as a surprise to supervisors in city government offices. "We will not fill vacant positions unless there is a reason to hire," said Commissioner Eddie Long.

Those same supervisors also may be disappointed to learn that there will be few new purchases, including buildings and vehicles.

Harrodsburg City Commission met in special session Thursday night to give first reading to the budget for the year that begins July 1. The proposed budget for the general fund is $5.5 million, up from $4.9 for the current fiscal year.

The water and sewer fund's budget is about $10.2 million, but about 70 percent of that represents loans and grants from outside sources for upgrading the city's water and sewer systems, according to City Administrative Officer Ed Music.


Harrodsburg's city treasury has been hit hard as have most cities' treasuries by a slow economy. Mayor Lonnie Campbell pointed to the loss in revenue from the city's net profits tax. The city received $445,799 in 2001.

Since then, it has been in a steady decline with a few upward blips along the way.

Actual receipts in 2003 - the last year where actual figures are available - were $205,091 and the budget for the upcoming year projects $265,539.

Health insurance premiums have increased by double-digits

Meanwhile, it will come as a surprise to very few that increases in health insurance premiums have increased by double-digits. The projected health insurance increase for the 2004-2005 fiscal year is 12.9 percent for most city workers and in the neighborhood of 16 percent for public safety employees.

City workers will get a wage increase of 1.88 percent. It won't show up on paycheck stubs, but for every dollar a city worker earns, the city pays out between 38-45 cents for benefits including health and life insurance, workers compensation, the portion of retirement and Social Security.

Commissioners in an informal discussion following the meeting said the only way to manage the cost of expensive benefits is to cut jobs, and so far, that has not happened. "Nobody's lost a job; everybody got a raise," Long said.

One number on the plus side is the $50,000 that has been budgeted by Mercer County Fiscal Court to help fund the cost of countywide dispatching services.

The county also budgeted $38,000 from expanded 911 service.

Those funds are paid by all customers of telephone land lines, including those in the city.

Last year, city officials began an effort to get county government to pay more of the cost of operating Central Dispatch, which handles calls for law enforcement, firefighting, and medical emergencies for all of Mercer County.

The $50,000 budgeted by the county is twice the amount budgeted for the current fiscal year. The county budgeted $25,000 for this year, but the city has received only $12,500 so far this year.

Some community agencies will be disappointed

There will be disappointment for some of the community agencies which sought funds from the city. Despite increases in some requests, the city is likely to fund those agencies with the same amounts it did last year. While the proposed donations were not in the budget, commissioners project they will be $59,000.

Harrodsburg/Mercer County Industrial Development Authority requested $26,350 from the city this year, but the city's cash contribution to the organization remains the same as last year. In other words, the authority will receive no money from the city.

Long pointed out that the city supplies the authority with free office space and utilities and the city loaned the board $120,000 several years ago at no interest.

The money was used to purchase land for the industrial park and the city was to be reimbursed when the land was sold; it has not been sold and the city has not been repaid.

While there are no new equipment purchases in the budget presented Thursday night by Music, Campbell said water and sewer employees have better equipment with which to work as they have ever had.

The Board of Commissioners will give the second and final reading for the budget at its regular meeting 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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