Farmington City Council identifies final budget cutsThe Farmington Fire Department may not get its new chief’s vehicle next year thanks to some last-minute cuts to the city of Farmington’s budget. That was the consensus reached during Monday’s Farmington City Council budget workshop, where council members were asked to identify $152,000 cuts to the 2013 budget.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
The Farmington Fire Department may not get its new chief’s vehicle next year thanks to some last-minute cuts to the city of Farmington’s budget.
That was the consensus reached during Monday’s Farmington City Council budget workshop, where council members were asked to identify $152,000 cuts to the 2013 budget. The budget cuts were necessary after council members voted 3-2 Dec. 3 against raising the 2013 levy from the 2012 amount.
That vote meant city administrator David McKnight had to find the additional cuts before the council’s Dec. 17 meeting, because the city is required by law to ratify next year’s levy and budget by Dec. 28.
McKnight held a series of meetings with department directors over the past week. What he brought to this week’s workshop was a list totaling more than $250,000 possible cuts, plus a couple of options for one-time revenue sources.
On the list was the elimination of a police officer at the end of May, which would have resulted in a $50,000 savings. While council members Julie May and Jason Bartholomay favored the option, mayor Todd Larson and council members Terry Donnelly and Christy Jo Fogarty did not. The option was the first taken off the list.
Farmington fire chief Tim Pietsch offered up a $50,000 generator that had been planned for the 2013 budget. The fire department asked for the generator in case of a natural disaster, but Pietsch had since learned that public works has extra generators that could be used if necessary.
McKnight had included proposed cuts of $15,000 to trail maintenance, $5,000 to a building maintenance fund, and charging the city’s economic development authority $15,000 for the time city planner Lee Smick spends on EDA-related tasks. Currently, Smick’s time is paid through the city’s general fund. Council members did not favor any of those cuts.
Although he would not go into specifics, McKnight identified $24,000 in staff reorganization savings that could be made next year, which council members did support.
Additionally, they favored allocating the $30,000 profit received through the sale of the old Rambling River Center building to the 2013 general fund. That helped to reduce the amount that needed to be cut from the budget to approximately $122,000.
Removing the generator and reorganizing staff totaled $74,000 in cuts. With the addition of the $30,000 from the building sale, council members were left to find $48,000 in cuts. They had two options left on the table – cut $50,000 from the reserve line item, or cut $50,000 for a new fire chief’s vehicle.
The $50,000 in the reserve is used for unanticipated expenses. Two years ago, that reserve money was put toward a shortfall in the fire relief association’s funding. This year, it was used to renovate the old Rambling River Center building to make it sellable, and to fund a salary investigation ordered by council over the summer.
The fire chief’s current vehicle is old and requires much maintenance. Farmington fire marshal John Powers was late getting to a recent fire because a wire in the truck had become disconnected and it would not start. The floor of the current vehicle has also rusted through in places.
“Either way, it’s a risk,” McKnight told council members.
McKnight suggested removing the chief’s vehicle for the time being, and seeing how the reserve fund survives the coming months. It may be possible, he said, to schedule the purchase of a new chief’s vehicle later in the year, if the reserve fund balance is intact. However, he cautioned, the chief’s vehicle will not be able to be used much longer.
“By Jan. 2, it could go kaput,” he said.
By consensus, council members indicated they would cut the chief’s vehicle, but recommended McKnight watch the reserve budget to see what happens in the next year. The final budget will be presented at the Dec. 17 council meeting.