The second look at the city of Union’s proposed 2019-20 budget provided a glimpse at how the city can avoid deficit spending. 

Finance Officer Heather Keith recently showed city officials and aldermen a draft of the next fiscal year’s budget. Keith provided a path for strategic cuts that would get the expenses to drop. 

Without the cuts, Keith said the budget did not balance with an overage of $476,296. With all the proposed projects in the budget, Keith said the general fund has a surplus of $127,778. 

The park fund, however, has expenses exceeding revenue by $604,074. City Administrator Russell Rost said it’s normal for the park fund to not balance because it doesn’t have a designated revenue source. The city regularly has to take money from the general fund to cover overages.

Proposed Cuts

Keith proposed a total of 10 cuts to the budget. The result would chop $479,240 out of the spending plan.

The first item on the list was $20,000 earmarked for the a sign at the new Union branch of the Scenic Regional Library. Last year the library asked the city to consider a cost share for a new electronic sign at the library.

The city supported the project and pledged $20,000 toward the sign — on the condition there was money in the budget. 

Under the proposed cuts the police department would see cuts totaling $92,240. The bulk of that savings comes from purchasing one police vehicle instead of three.

A $10,240 cut is a training system favored by former Chief Norm Brune. Rost said when Brune retired, he suggested the training be cut from the budget.

The proposed budget also removes a dump truck ($138,500) and cuts $117,000 out of the road maintenance budget.

The engineering department would lose a proposed new inspector. The position would have cost $68,000 including salary, a vehicle and a equipment.

A printer for $500 also was removed from the budget.

For the parks department, Keith proposed eliminating a pavilion at Veterans Memorial Park that would have cost $25,000. Cutting an overlay planned at Clark-Vitt trail would save an additional $18,000.

Rost said the proposed cuts are not “terrible.” He said he the city might get behind on buying new police cars, but for the most part things get cut every year. 

Alderman David Pope pointed out that the city actually dipped into reserves last year to tackle a number of pressing projects. By doing so, he said the city was in better shape this year.

Pope said there’s nothing stopping the board from making budget amendments to fund any of the cut projects if they are found to be needed. 

The budget will still be tweaked before it’s approved by aldermen in June. Keith said the board will discuss salary increases in May and see how those impact the bottom line. She said a 1 percent salary increase would cost about $20,300.

City Hall Project

Keith said the city hall project is included in the budget. She said the project will take $2 million out of the CDs in the general fund. She said $1 million will be taken out of the water/wastewater balances.

Keith said in 2020, the city will get $1.5 million in certificates of participation. That payment will start in the 2020-21 budget, she said.