The Norman Transcript


June 5, 2013

Lean city budget may not be lean enough

NORMAN — Despite hiring freezes, no pay raises and vacant city staff positions being eliminated, Norman continues to use its general fund balance to buoy revenue sources and balance the budget. The downward trend must stop, council member Robert Castleberry told fellow council members at a FY 2014 budget study session Tuesday.

“We are planning to spend $2.5 million more than we expect in revenue,” said Castleberry who is a a certified public accountant. “That will leave us with a projected general fund balance of $1.2 million.”

The city has been drawing down its general fund balance for several years. In 2008, the general fund balance carried over $12.6 million.

“That was an excess,” Castleberry said. “I think you probably need to be at a 3 to 4 percent level. Right now, we’ve budgeted to finish at 1.5 percent. That’s definitely too low.”

On the plus side, the city council has put $1.5 million in the Rainy Day fund and is proposing to transfer another million this year, bringing the Rainy Day fund up to $2.5 million.

The Rainy Day fund acts as an emergency savings account that can only be used under certain circumstances.

Tuesday, Norman Finance Director Anthony Francisco outlined seven proposed budget amendments based on direction the city council has given staff for changing the proposed budget document. Most of those are last minute housekeeping details.

Castleberry proposed another amendment to cut the already lean budget.

He suggested chopping expenses described as supplies, materials and vendor services. The city manager will bring back details on those items so the council can make a more informed decision about how much can be trimmed.

“It will give us a chance to do a line-by-line assessment,” Castleberry said. “The key thing is, we’ve done this with no personnel cuts this year.”

In other city business, city attorney Jeff Bryant reported on the status of the University North Park TIF. The TIF district has generated an extra $22.9 million in net sales tax since it’s inception in October 2006 through March 2013.

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