The LaFayette City Council has finally approved the budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year, and the most notable addition is that employees that have been working for the city for longer than six-months will receive a two-percent pay raise.
Passing the budget for the fiscal year, which actually began on October 1, has been a difficult task for the council. Finance Committee Chair David Ennis said at the regular council meeting last Monday that numerous committee sessions had been held to try to get the budget out of the red. Previously, the budget had showed a deficit of about $110,000. “Over the last several weeks, City Clerk Louis Davidson has met with department heads to try and trim down expenses,” Ennis said.
Ennis noted that some areas of the budget still needed to be addressed but that the committee wanted to get it passed in order for the employee raises to take effect. He added that the budget could be amended at any time to reflect any needed changes.
At that meeting, Ennis made a motion for unanimous consent to suspend the rules for immediate consideration of the budget resolution. However, Councilman Mike Ellis voted no to the measure, which required the resolution to go through two readings before it could be passed.
The council then approved a motion to approve the first reading of the budget resolution. Ellis again voted against the motion, but it did not require unanimous consent to be approved.
After the meeting, Ellis told The LaFayette Sun that he had no objection with employees receiving pay raises. “I voted no because I asked to be involved in the budget process, but was not,” he said. “We just got it (the budget) last week and to not be included was frustrating.”
When asked if there were specific portions of the budget he found problematic, Ellis pointed to the large percentage of funding allotted to the public safety department and the less than adequate funding for the recreation department.
Because the budget was not passed at the regular meeting, a called meeting was scheduled for Wednesday. At that meeting, the second reading of the budget resolution took place and a formal vote was held. It was unanimously approved by a 5-0 vote; Ellis was not present at the meeting. The council stipulated that the new budget would take effect on Thursday, Dec. 25 so as to coincide with the beginning of a new pay cycle for city employees.
The budget, which does include the two-percent employee raise, projects $8,437,032.32 in expenses for the city and $8,440,332.32 in revenues, leaving a surplus of $3,330.
Some notable proposed expenses for the fiscal year are $907,729.00 for the Police Department, $476,787.96 for the Fire Department, $479,451.12 for the EMS, $289,468.64 for the Street Department, $32,605.60 for animal control, $81,527.68 for city cemeteries, $25,700.00 for recreation, $3,537,244.00 for the Electric Department, 526,755.84 for the water plant, $328,103.79 for water distribution, $380,655.36 for the waste plant, $219,708.95 for waste collection, and $266,152.48 for sanitation.
The budget includes capital outlay expenses totaling $339,000.00. This includes $90,000 for two new police vehicles, $100,000 for a new ambulance, $27,000 for a new roof at the old medical building on Hwy 50, and $50,000 for development of a new city park.