Written by HAROLD BROWN Sentinel City Editor
Tuesday, 10 December 2013 11:17
Funds for a 3-percent raise are included a proposed City of Bowling Green 2014 budget to be introduced Dec. 16 by Bowling Green City Council.
Although not discussed Monday afternoon during council's Finance Committee budget review, a 3-percent "salary adjustment" was part of a presentation a month ago during a review of utility budgets. Six of seven council members and one incoming council member attended Monday's session, along with the mayor and numerous city officials and department heads.
Municipal Administrator John Fawcett did mention the need to confirm the amount after the meeting but cautioned nothing is guaranteed. He pointed out that all five unions representing city employees have contracts up for renegotiation in 2014. The city has contracts with police command officers, police officers and dispatchers, firefighters, a group of utility employees and a group of other employees working in several departments. Non-union city employees have traditionally received similar adjustments.
Council will likely give the budget ordinance its first reading Dec. 16 and give second and third readings before approving it on Dec. 30.
He also told council that 2013 city income tax revenue is projected to run 7.13 percent ahead of 2012. The 2012 budget was built on a projected 2.94-percent revenue increase and the 2013 budget has been built on a 3-percent revenue increase. The projections are provided by City Income Tax Commissioner Rob Wright.
Finance Committee Chairperson Robert McOmber asked if the city should be concerned about faculty cuts at Bowling Green State University.
Wright said his projections look at several sectors of the local economy. "Business expansion, growth, past history all enter into this. We have exceeded Gross Domestic Product Growth and also project that for 2014. This is a conservative and realistic projection."
Figures provided after the meeting by City Finance Director Brian Bushong indicate the city expects 2013 income tax revenue to total $17,224,000, compared to $16,077,218.60 in 2012. This year marks the third straight year of rising income tax revenue after three years of decline between 2008 through 2010. At 3-percent growth in 2014 income tax revenue would reach $17,740,720.
Fawcett said with the city's health insurance premiums set to increase 16 percent in 2014, city employees will see their out-of-pocket costs increase.
Personnel costs in 2014 are expected to require 73.35 percent of the budget, up from 72.74 percent. Third Ward Council Member Michael Aspacher said being under 80 percent is considered desirable. The lone addition to city staff in 2014 will be reinstatement of a part-time sports program leader for Parks and Recreation. The utility budget also calls for at least two additions.
Fawcett said the staff is: working to rebuild fund balances; continuing to be conservative in spending; looking at ways to align staff to services; studying future cemetery operations; considering technology to improve services; collaborating with BGSU and other government entities; maintaining City Hall and other facilities; and planning for succession as employees retire or leave for other jobs.