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April 21, 2013

Norman’s General Fund depleted by 93 percent in just six years

NORMAN — Norman’s General Fund balance was $12.6 million following Fiscal Year 2008. At the end of FY 2014 that fund balance is projected to be $849,149 — a 93 percent decrease in six years.

City Finance Director Anthony Francisco said this week total city expenditures will again exceed total revenue in the proposed FY 2014 budget. While the Norman City Council is required by state law to approve a balanced budget, the city has been balancing its budget in recent years using carryover from the previous years’ accumulated General Fund.

“We’ve been drawing that (General Fund Balance) down over the last few years,” Franciso said.

The $12.6 million the city had accumulated in 2008 is “about what our general fund balance should be,” Francisco said.

The General Fund balance does not include roughly $1.5 million the council has set aside in the city’s Rainy Day fund.

“It doesn’t change the general dynamics that the fund balance is down,” said Mayor Cindy Rosenthal, “Coming out of the recession, we have been spending more than we have been bringing in, but the 2008 figures are before we separated out the PSST money.”

Currently, the Public Safety Sales Tax money is maintained in a separate fund and is used for specified police and fire personnel. Additionally, PSST money is paying for some badly needed equipment purchases and the construction of Fire Stations No. 8 and No. 9.

The PSST fund does have some excess money that is being reserved for salaries, pending its renewal when that special tax expires in 2015. Currently, the PSST fund balance is $9.4 million.

The city has budgeted to replace the computer aided dispatch system, renovate the Smalley Operations Center on Lindsey Street, buy a new fire boom truck and a a new fire pumper during FY 2013 out of PSST funds. Additionally, several trucks and other fire apparatus are budgeted to be purchased in FY 2014.

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