Council hears plans for 2014 budget

City Manager Bruce Slagle told City Council at the Budget work session Wednesday that the local economy is stable and showing signs of improvement for the 2014 budget year. Compared to the state and national unemployment percentages, he said, Mexico is doing better than most places.
"Our local economy is at 6.4 percent for unemployment rates compared to the state at 7.1 percent and 7.8 percent nationally, and we're seeing more people coming into the community," Slagle said. "Our unemployment rate is better than state or nation."

The total funds for the proposed FY 2014 Budget:
• Revenues ($12,762,333)
•Expenditures ($13,429,286)
• Variance ($666,953)

The revenue summary by source is:
• Property tax: $1,052,104
• Gross Receipts Tax: $1,944,749
• Sales Tax: $3,206,873
• Intergovernmental Revenue: $808,798
• Licenses and permits: $113,000
• Fines and Forfeitures: $43,800
• Charges for services, fees: $3,929,858
• Investment income: $67,140
• Miscellaneous: $206,262
• Transfers: $1,389,749
Total revenue: $12,762,333
Slagle said some of the guiding issues for FY14 include keeping the tax revenue stable, increases in recurring expenditures, the cost of replacing equipment and wastewater system improvements.
Property tax rates for FY14, Slagle said, will be as low as they have been in 21 years at $0.7182. The Assessed Property Value in 2012 was $138,556,104. In 2013, it was $140,762,010. The increase of $2,205,906, Slagle explained, is made of two figures. Part of that increase is from Real Estate Valuation ($301,865) and the other part is made up of Personal Property ($1,904,041).

Possible plans for 2014:
Slagle said the funds once used to support public health (which is now working off of a Mil Tax) will be used to expand the Mexico Animal Shelter to make it sound proof; provide more funds for city demolitions; and purchase some available property.
City is also looking into replacing the downtown city lights to make them more energy efficient and to help eliminate the red glow cast from the current lights. Slagle said downtown building owners have voiced concerns. The plan is to retain the same wiring and poles and just replace the lights.
Mayor Ron Loesch and Councilman Chris Williams both voiced concerns about how the Parks and Recreation funds are being spent. Both said the citizens expect more than just bathroom restorations. Slagle and Parks and Recreation Director Chad Shoemaker told the council they are currently catching up with maintenance issues, and that the city just received a survey draft that will help them prioritize the wishes of the community. Once that has happened, they said, the department will start focusing on where the citizens want to put the money.
Staff is currently trying to get the tennis court lighting in order. Shoemaker said 27 vendors were notified, and none have replied with quotes. He believes the work to repair is too involved, and that the contractors would rather build something new.
A draft copy of the proposed FY 2014 budget can be viewed by residents at City Hall. Copies of the budget will be available online after it is approved. A public hearing and first reading of the budget will be held at the Sept. 9 City Council meeting.
A second reading and passage of the proposed budget will be heard at the Sept. 23 Council meeting.