After years of budget shortfalls, the city found out Tuesday that it has a slight surplus.
Last fall, when the city established this year’s budget, staff estimated the amount of revenue the city would get and what it would spend.
But now that the actual amount of the budgets is known, the city found that the balances are almost $2.5 million higher than anticipated.
“Most of this is due to last year’s expenditures coming in less than expected, and some revenues coming in more than estimated,” reported the city’s financial department.
Among the revenues that came in higher than expected were funds gained from photo enforcement cameras, which were discontinued at the start of the year. The final accounting revealed that rather than the $202,000 the city expected, the income turned out to be $321,000. That money can only be spent on public safety.
The city also got a $120,000 grant for surface water. In all, the water funds came in nearly $1 million deeper in the black than expected, due to higher revenues and lower expenses than foreseen.
The city decided to amend this year’s budget to include a few new expenses, including $50,000 for two new police motorcycles. About $90,000 was approved to do rate studies for water, stormwater, and sewer rates as part of the 10-year comprehensive plan amendment currently underway.
Also, the city came up a half-million shorter on the sale of city land to Walmart than anticipated, due in part to fees and other costs associated with the land sale and subsequent development.
“The Contingency Fund is down $490,000, mainly due to lack of communication with [former economic development manager] Jeff Sax on how much we’d receive on the Walmart sale,” explained Finance Director Dianne Nelson to the council Tuesday night.
The problem lay, she later explained, with terms. When asking how much the city would get in the deal, Sax named the figure the buyers would pay, about $7.5 million. Nelson misunderstood, she said, and assumed that $7.5 million was what the city would gross.
“When I was doing the budget, I was asking what we were going to get and he was saying the gross number, and I was thinking of net,” she said.
After fees and other costs associated with the sale, the city actually netted closer to $7 million.
The city had agreed to share some of the expenses associated with the construction of Walmart and a Housing Hope development for low income housing.
Some of those expenses came out of the city’s Contingency Fund, which is used for unforeseen expenses.
In other business, the city awarded the contract to create a roundabout at the intersection of Chain Lake Road and North Kelsey to Taylor’s Excavators, Inc. The contract is for $1.1 million, which is about $75,000 lower than the city expected to have to pay