With a tight city budget already in 2012, Wapakoneta City Council Finance Committee members and the mayor favor an earlier start on the budget process for 2013.
Wapakoneta 3rd Ward Councilor and Finance Committee Chair Bonnie Wurst says she intends to contact City Auditor Gail Walter about having spreadsheets showing expenses for the first nine months this year so they can extrapolate year-end totals and start the budget process for next year.
“We need to get started soon and I will be contacting the auditor to see when we can get started,” Wurst told the Wapakoneta Daily News after Monday’s council meeting. “It would be advantageous for this council to start the process earlier since the budget was so tight last year and it would help us these last three months to be more careful with contingency money.”
Wurst said she also wants to be extremely thorough with the 2013 budget because they anticipate the 2014 budget to would be even more stressed.
“When we were doing the 2012 budget, it appeared that 2013 would be OK but the 2014 budget would be when the budget would get really tight so we need to be extremely careful with the 2013 budget in order to ensure we don’t make the 2014 budget even worse,” Wurst said. “I would like to get a firm handle on the 2013 budget and eliminate any problems next year so we are better prepared to do the 2014 budget and the city can handle any difficulties that year.”
The Finance Committee chair also pointed out revenue has increased this year, but she anticipates expenses to increase as well in the new year.
A sheet detailing income tax revenue showed the city of Wapakoneta generated $1.69 million through the first nine months of 2012, compared to $1.63 million in 2011. It is the most income tax revenue generated in the first nine months since 2008.
Wapakoneta 1st Ward Councilor Jim Neumeier talked with Wurst about it being crucial to begin meeting to set the 2013 budget as soon as possible.
He said committee members can start to meet and discuss revenues and expenses so far this year and anticipated expenses for next year, focusing in on one-time expenses until the auditor can develop a more detailed forecast for 2013.
Finance Committee members typically have started meeting in late November or early December to discuss the next year’s budget. The weekly meetings typically end the first or second week of February.
Mayor Rodney Metz also favored starting the budget process earlier this year.
“We could easily start on some line items now and the sooner we start then the less rushed everyone will be,” Metz said. “This also should eliminate suspending the rules of three readings and emergency language.”
The budget needs to be approved by April 1.
He acknowledged the 2013 budget would be tight, especially the Parks and Recreation Fund, which is in the midst of paying its share for the former Centennial Elementary School property and for Harmon Park property from the Wapakoneta City Schools system, and the Wastewater Fund, which is funding a $30 million South Interceptor replacement project.
“If we start earlier, we will have more time to make sure we don’t miss anything in the budget and we can make sure all outside maintenance is planned for, too,” Metz said.
He also made reference to the increased income tax revenue.
“We will have to see how that plays out over the last quarter of the year before we can make any decisions,” Metz said. “We will not plan on using all of the increase. We will continue to develop a budget based on higher than anticipated expenses and lower than expected revenues.”