By Joshua Winata
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE – In the second of two workshops conducted this week, the City Council reviewed department operating budgets for the upcoming year, looking at both new programs and unmet needs.
The council delved into the general fund on Tuesday evening, followed by enterprise funds on Thursday.
In the past, all department budgets were presented by the city's finance director, but this year, respective department heads made the presentations to allow the council to ask specific questions of city directors.
This year's budget is described in City Manager Andrea Gardner's message as "a conservative plan" with minimal changes. In most departments, the biggest differences over last year are found in salaries and benefits due to cost-of-living adjustments for city employees, and in supplies and repairs due to equipment maintenance and rising fuel costs.
This year, the general fund includes a modest $320,572 in new programs and services, with the largest expenses funding new personnel, including an animal control officer, a project accountant and a new police officer.
The proposed budget also allocates $58,320 for a police uniform cleaning service, which will be selected based on competitive bids.
General fund unmet needs, or department requests not included in the proposed budget, totaled more than $1.4 million and included a number of new positions and equipment to increase efficiency. If unexpected funding arises later in the year, the unmet needs may be reintroduced to the budget through amendments.
Enterprise funds, which include the water and sewer, solid waste and golf course funds all include increases in fees, most of which have been added to offset costs or cover new services.
The water and sewer fund received the most attention from the council as departments face increased state regulations and growing demands from a rapidly developing city.
However, the fund as proposed is already $550,555 below ideal fund balance due to a decrease in revenues and rising water costs, so requested positions, including sewer and water distribution operators, remain unmet needs. The positions have been annually requested and denied several times since 2001.
"It's really put a burden on the people I have right now in that department, so we're adding this other employee to offset the excess overtime and comp time that we've developed in this department," Water Distribution Superintendent Daniel Hawbecker said. "The development in the city has increased quite a bit, plus there are other projects that are getting ready to start."
Public Works Director Robert McKinnon also presented the unmet need for a shoring box, a $5,000 request made out of safety concerns.
The council discussed possible ways to add the positions and equipment to the already tight and overstretched budget. They looked at funding the position for a half-year and suggested raising water rates, but no final recommendation was made.
The council will revisit the water and sewer fund in greater detail and make changes at a workshop next month after all the funds have been reviewed and actual expenditures from last year are available.
Proposed new programs in the enterprise funds total $122,009, and unmet needs are valued at $676,909.
Copies of the proposed budget are available for viewing at the Copperas Cove Public Library and online at www.ci.copperascove.tx.us.
The next budget workshop will be at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall to discuss the debt service and special revenue funds and capital improvements, including past and future bond issuances.
Contact Joshua Winata at email@example.com or (254) 501-7476.