The numbers are in.
Pryor Budget and Personnel committee met Tuesday and discussed the mid-year financial review as well as the need to expand Pryor.
Ron Kolker presented the mid-year budget review spreadsheet. He quickly took the committee through the report, explaining the deficits.
In regard to sales tax, he said Pryor is slowly turning things around.
“In 2009 the bottom fell out, and it dropped even more in 2010. It went up in 2011 and 2012 but we’re still not back to where we were in 2008,” said Kolker.
He explained use tax occurs when something is purchased out of state which is subject to sales tax, but none is charged. Use tax is in lieu sales tax and occurs often during construction projects. He explained that use tax has gone down nine percent in 2012.
Kolker said some areas will show deficits, or decreases, because of fees that only occur in the first half of the year. These numbers, he projects, will balance out in the latter half of the fiscal year.
Kolker went on to explain the golf account’s deficit.
“It went down $57,000 because there are no membership fees in the first half of the year, that’s all,” said Kolker. “Last year I warned they needed to watch it and they did. They also paid off their lease-purchase in December, so that will eliminate an expense.”
“In regard to capital outlay, we pulled revenue to help the general fund. At some point we would like to transfer back the use tax, but we won’t be able to probably until after next year,” said Kolker.
“Basically it looks good considering what happened to our revenue. I estimate it will balance out and we will end the year with a $6,500 loss, which to me is acceptable,” said Kolker.
The committee was given time to review the numbers and ask any questions.
“I know you said a $6,500 isn’t bad. But, we know health insurance and salaries took a big chunk. Does it stand to be more at the end of the year?” said committee member Drew Stott.
“January sales tax was way up, $80,000. For the rest of this year I think we’re OK. The loss may be greater but it depends on the revenue,” said Kolker.
“You’re in good shape compared to many cities because we’ve had reserves and flexibility in our use tax. I feel good about Pryor,” he said.
“We’ve been having to rob Peter to pay Paul all these years,” said Stott.
“Your agenda proposal about requesting $350,000 from MUB would be a huge boon in revenue, that would help a lot,” said Kolker.
The committee thanked Kolker for his hard work in preparing the review.
Mayor Jimmy Tramel commented on the review, saying that nearly every department is operating within budget, but that budgets are decreasing while expenditures are increasing.
“Everybody is doing what they can to manage their departments, but we need a new revenue source, bottom line,” said Tramel. “Gas went up 39 percent and we can’t sustain that type of growth. I’ve asked for MUB to increase. If not, we need another revenue stream.”
Tramel said he hates seeing the negative numbers in the city budget.
“If we plan to give raises or pay insurance, we need a revenue source. We can’t continue on the same path. I think we’re OK today, and next year, but what about five years from now,” said Tramel.
He discussed that the knee jerk reaction is to cut departments, but that he cannot do so without cutting services. The citizens of Pryor are accustomed to these services, he said, and the city needs to sustain them.
“I know you’re sick of me saying this but I worry about our economy. If the answer is find another revenue, that’s a tax to a citizen. We need to live within our means, even if that means cutting back,” said Stott. “It’s easier to take care of a problem before, rather than after, it happens. And I don’t want another tax.”
The mayor said he does not wanting another tax, just a reallocation of an existing one.
“I was crucified for suggesting an admin tax. If the people say no to a reallocation, we’ll have to stop going on domestic calls or make fewer fire runs or stop cutting grass at the park. If that’s what it comes down to, we’ll have to do it,” said Tramel.
“Members of the council, and of the community, need to think outside the box. We talk about taxes and fees to increase revenue, but we could figure a way to increase sales tax revenue instead,” said committee member Greg Rosamond.
“We’ve got to bring more people to town or this sales tax isn’t moving,” said Tramel.
“People here are spending money outside the community and there could be ways to encourage them to spend it here. To get more people we need a population boom or tourism increases,” said Rosamond.
Tramel said he is for working on ideas to promote tourism and internal growth, and that the MidAmerica Industrial park might be key.
“We’re trending upwards, but we’re not there yet,” said Rosamond.
The committee moved on to discuss the approval of creating a police captain with a three percent pay increase.
Tramel spoke up immediately, saying this was not a budgeted position.
“We have a program now, a warrant intercept program, I can’t explain the details. We had to do some things and it means money coming in. If you owe money, we’re gonna get it,” said Tramel. “We got $6,000 in two weeks, $1,500 of that was in the first two days. This takes management, so that, along with some other things, is how I’m going to offset the pay.”
Assistant Police Chief Derek Melton explained the new Warrant Intercept program.
“We are working together with another entity to withhold tax return funds from those who have outstanding warrants for arrest to the city – who never pay their fines. This makes the court more efficient,” said Melton. “ We have hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid fines and costs on file because a myriad of violators will not pay fines. This joint effort withholds owed monies from tax refunds to pay fines owed.”
Police Chief Dennis Nichols pointed out that his department is within the budget in salaries.
“This has been discussed for months now. I’m not opposed to this. I think three percent is reasonable, I’m sure there’s a bountiful workload he will absorb,” said Rosamond.
“I still have concerns,” said Stott. “It wasn’t a budgeted position and our city budget is cutting it pretty close. I think one of these days it will create another position that you’ll want to fill, and we will be over payroll.”
Nichols said he could not promise that would never happen, but that is not his intention in creating this position.
Stott started his next question with, “please, don’t get mad at me.” He clarified that the person getting promoted is a detective, and a patrolman is replacing the detective, asking whether or not that will leave a patrol position un-covered.
“The captain will do some patrol work, as well as detective work, as well as the administrative duties we’ve discussed,” said Nichols.
A motion was made to approve the creation of the position. With Stott having the only no vote, the motion carried.
The committee approved the captains job duties to say, “warrant intercept, seizures, patrol supervisor, and other duties as assigned.” With the same 2 to 1 vote, the motion passed
The committee then discussed the previously mentioned request being made to the Municipal Utility Board.
“Look at the tax report and see that one half of one cent sales tax goes into their account. From this they have $900,000 a year for utility systems and improvements,” said Tramel.
“I’m asking for them to budget this in. I don’t know if we’ll get it, I don’t know how they’ll do it. It’s not my decision,” he said.
He explained holding out one half of one cent began in 1989 to pay for utility systems, then the sewer plant, then capital outlay improvement. “They have a little over $7,000,000 in that account,” Tramel said.
The committee agreed they do not have a problem with requesting MUB budget those funds and that perhaps this, the third time, will be the charm.