City of New London department heads and elected officials breathed a sigh of relief last week following an annual budget committee of the whole meeting.
Despite facing potential hikes in healthcare premiums, rising operational costs, and a surge in retirements among the city’s most veteran employees, taxpayers can expect less than one tenth of a percent increase in the proposed 2015 levy.
City Administrator Kent Hager delivered a budget message to begin the meeting.
“For the year 2015, we are able to continue our General Fund operations much as we have in the past. With foresight, since 2006, we have decreased our full time staff while at the same time all city departments are controlling their operating expenses very well,” said Hager.
“We have managed to continue to provide the same level of services that our constituents expect while we try and get accustomed to the state imposed new normal of the “limited growth of local government,” said Hager.
He thanked all city staff members for their continued efforts to control costs while maintaining the same level of services.
He also thanked Finance Director Judy Radke for her work throughout the budget process.
“Judy continues to deserve special recognition for her efforts to keep our community’s budget in line,” said Hager.
He highlighted some of the 2015 budget factors.
“The increase between the 2014 and 2015 (tax levy) is only $23,941 representing growth in the levy of 0.9 percent or nine-tenths of one percent over the prior year,” said Hager.
New London’s proposed mill rate for 2015 is 8.31 per thousand, .03 cents over 2014. Hager reported the city’s equalized value rebounded slightly from $322 million in 2014, to $323 million for 2015.
“The levy over the three-year budget period 2013, 2014 and 2015 has increased a modest 1.7 percent,” said Hager.
“Total operational expenses for the year 2015 are budgeted to increase only one percent or $68,849 out of a total budget of $6.8 million,” said Hager. In the prior year budget for 2014 it was also held at one percent. “These small increases are a testament to the conservative management we have in place,” he added.
Operating revenue increase
The total operating revenue in the 2015 budget is increasing 2.64 percent or $111,764 to total $4.3 million. State shared revenue is anticipated to increase a modest $2,481 in 2015, and highway aid is budgeted to increase $14,838.
Hager said the largest revenue increase was just over $100,000 from the New London Utility payment in lieu of taxes.
The 2015 budget includes $250,000 for capital projects and equipment. A Capital Equipment and Projects Committee meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 12 at 5 p.m. The committee will discuss the 2015 capital program and review its 10-year capital plan.
Hager noted the future closure of the city’s Tax Increment Finance District 2 in 2015.
“We have been waiting nearly twenty years for the closure of Tax Increment Finance District 2,” he said. “The ending of TIF 2 is going to give us an opportunity to make some much needed improvements to our community’s assets. Planning for the TIF closure has begun and needs to continue. Let’s try and appreciate this time of new financial opportunity for our community.”
Alderman Tom O’Connell recommended the 2015 proposed budget for approval by the full council at its next meeting. The motion carried and passed unanimously.