Editor’s note: First of a two-part series focusing on the approved 2013 St. Clair budget.

The city of St. Clair will have an operating budget of $6.449 million for 2013 after the board of aldermen unanimously approved the proposed annual appropriations during its Monday meeting.

For the fifth year in a row, the budget is balanced.

“This is a balanced budget that relies entirely on 2013 revenues,” City Administrator Rick Childers told the aldermen on Monday.

The balancing act came as a result of three budget workshops conducted by the aldermen and city officials in October and November.

“The proposed 2013 annual appropriations is balanced,” Childers said in his summary presented with the budget. “The budget as proposed recognizes three primary factors — the need to continue accumulation of reserves to the greatest extent practical the culmination of several years’ effort in the completion of two major transportation projects and direction from the board of aldermen to maintain expenses within revenues generated during 2013 without the use of ‘carryover’ funds from 2012.”

The 2013 budget includes a 2 percent wage increase for all employees except for elected officials, and sets aside a salary for a new full-time “utility skilled laborer” as well as a part-time recreation director.

The budget also includes a contractual 3 percent increase for waste hauling services, but no increase in water and sewer collection fees.

All of the six individual funds — general, water and sewer, park, street improvement, half-cent sales tax and transportation tax — are individually balanced.

St. Clair’s fiscal year mirrors the calendar year, meaning the aldermen had to approve next year’s budget by the end of this year.

Public Hearing

A public hearing for the budget took place prior to Monday’s regular meeting. At that time, no city officials had any comments or concerns.

Pacific resident and airport tenant Jim DeVries asked the only question. He wanted to know what the insurance costs are for the St. Clair Regional Airport for both 2012 and 2013.

Childers answered him by quoting the budgeted figures of $7,904 for this year and $9,000 for next year.

The city’s insurance costs at the facility, according to the budget document, total 5 percent of the overall amount charged to the city through MIRMA. Forty-five percent of the fee is under administration, 20 percent under water, 20 percent under sewer and 10 percent under parks and recreation.

Budget Summary

Following are the specific fund amounts:

•General: $2.221 million in 2013 compared to $2.295 million in 2012.

•Water and sewer: $1.922 million in 2013 compared to $1.935 million in 2012.

•Park: $145,137 in 2013 compared to $196,712 in 2012.

•Street improvement: $1.339 million in 2013 compared to $1.439 million in 2012.

•Half-cent sales tax: $412,900 in 2013 compared to $408,415 in 2012.

•Transportation tax: $209,600 in 2013 compared to $228,937 in 2012.

“The proposed annual appropriations for 2013 are designed to meet the operational costs of the city, make necessary repairs, meet scheduled debt service requirements and to complete capital improvement projects pursuant to the adopted capital improvements plan and the direction of the board of aldermen,” Childers said. “The budget is balanced, and it will serve as a critical tool in the direction and implementation of city services throughout the calendar year.”