I attended the Spur City Council meeting on Tuesday night to hear a preliminary presentation for the city’s proposed 2009/2010 budget. Spur City Council members are faced with some tough decisions to make on the coming fiscal year’s budget. Preparation of the city’s annual budget is one of the most important responsibilities the city council faces each year.
This year the council is faced with a budget deficit of approximately $18,000 which means the city’s budget for next fiscal year is $18,000 short on income to meet estimated expenses. There are several reasons for this shortfall:
• A reduction in tax property values this year versus last year. The property value tax base for fiscal year 2008/2009 was $17,999,164. In 2009/2010 it will be $17,752,940. This is $246,244 less in taxable value than last year.
- Some of Spur’s commercial property went down in value according to the Dickens County Appraisal District after a reappraisal was peformed earlier this year.
-Several new exemptions and a new house bill for disabled veterans also dropped the taxable value of some residential homes inside Spur’s city limits.
• Not enough profit from sales of water and sales of gas. Water and gas profits have been continually used to help fund operations of some of the following services: fire protection, police protection, parks & recreation, street maintenance, and the Main Street Program.
- Gas prices can fluctuate depending on demand. The City of Spur’s gas customers experience monthly increases or decreases due to the fluctuation in purchase price from WTG Gas Marketing whose prices reflect the current gas market prices. The City’s average purchase price for gas last year was $8.35 and for this year has been $3.84. The City considers the need to maintain their gas price within the rate of current propane prices. Most of the total budgeted profit from gas sales in 2009/2010 will be used for operating expenses in the city’s gas department with only $7,281 going into the general fund to fund city services that were mentioned above.
-The water and sewer fund will also operate with a 15 percent decrease in profit in the next year due to less water sales. The city will experience a 50 percent decrease in water sales to Valley Water Corporation alone, since Valley Water has dropped from 2 million gallons used per month to under 1 million per month. While the city is proud that the Valley Water System will be financially sound due to their improvements, management and conservation efforts, the city cannot ignore the drop in water sales.
Spur City Council members are faced with a daunting task in the next couple of weeks. I am hoping this will make Spur residents and others aware of what the council faces when its looks at ways in which to overcome the $18,000 shortfall. Please keep this in mind and in prayer as council members look at different avenues in which to cut the city’s budget. Most of all my hope is this will give residents some understanding and compassion for those trying to make such difficult decisions, and, rather than slandering the council with negative remarks and objectionable advice, shower them with encouragement and helpful suggestions.