A year ago, new City Administrator Hillary Gintz told her four elected aldermen and Mayor Richard Vinson that budget guidelines would be followed in the coming fiscal year.
After two consecutive years that saw the city of Seymour spend nearly $710,000 more than it took in, Gintz made her department heads and the Seymour Board of Aldermen sharpen their respective pencils to create a budget that ended in the black.
Budgeted was a record $5,327,471 in city revenue.
Projected was a gain of $176,434.62.
A year later, it appears Gintz missed her mark.
To the good.
Final results of the 2019-20 fiscal year showed the city with $5,020,015.92 in revenue, $4,688,768.31 in expenses and a positive difference of $331,247.61.
For the coming fiscal year of 2020-21, another budget that ends in the black is projected, which calls for $4,845,580.83 in revenue, $4,590,305.87 in expenses and a positive bottom line of $255,274.96.
That budget was passed in a 4-0 vote by the four-member Seymour Board of Aldermen last Thursday night at its regular meeting.
“I’ve budgeted our revenue conservatively,” Gintz said to Vinson and the aldermen. “This budget calls for little revenue growth in sales tax, although early sales-tax numbers are showing the COVID-19 hasn’t had a negative impact on our overall sales-tax revenue.
“However, this budget still calls for neutral growth. We don’t know what the ultimate impact of the virus will be in terms of sales tax. And if sales-tax revenue grows like it did last year, then we’ll have a pleasant surprise.”
It’s almost certain that the city’s budget for the coming year will outpace projections for its bottom line.
The budget approved by the aldermen didn’t include increases in sewer and water rates. However, city leaders did decide to increase the basic fees for both services at the board’s next meeting on Tuesday, July 7, as an ordinance to that effect will be read and is expected to be passed.
The 12-page budget will go into effect next Wednesday, July 1, which is the first day of the new fiscal year.
Highlights include full installation of the city’s new AMI (advanced metering infrastructure) for automated electric and water billing, a pair of new buildings for the city’s electric and sewer departments, the entire projected $180,000 in half-cent “pool tax” revenue to the Seymour YMCA and balanced budgets in every city department.
There also will be a focus on saving earmarked money in the sewer and water departments, Gintz noted, allowing the city to build financial reserves and take the first steps toward developing long-term plans to rebuild the infrastructure for each city service.
“I feel like we’ve had a really good year, and I feel that (the upcoming fiscal year) will be even better,” Gintz said.
“My department heads, all of them, including the police and fire departments, did a great job in taking the time to develop great budgets and explaining their needs. For each department, there were things we couldn’t afford, but everyone made sacrifices for the overall good of the city.
“We’re fortunate to have a great group of people working for the city. As a whole, they love Seymour, and it shows in everything they do.”
In terms of larger capital projects, the remainder of West Clinton Avenue (Business 60) will be repaved until its end at the intersection of U.S. 60 at the McDonald’s restaurant.
In the past fiscal year, half of the project was completed.
The price tag is $82,500.
Another $4,000 was budgeted in the street department for sidewalk replacement and removal.
The police department will purchase two new vehicles, projected to be used, low-mileage Dodge Charger cars, while the department’s current Dodge truck will be the vehicle for the new school-resource officer for the Seymour R-II School District.
“I’m moving to the Chargers because it just gives us a better value — two cars can be purchased for a lower price than I can buy one (Chevrolet) Tahoe,” Police Chief Steven Pogue explained. “We’ve got our two current Tahoes in a rotation, and we’ll replace them next. But for now, I want for us to add two cars, which will give the department two four-wheel-drive SUVs and two cars.”
Both cars will be paid from the city’s 3/8-cent sales tax for fire and police.
The budget calls for no increases for Seymour’s electric rates. In fact, based on a recommendation from Gintz, the city lowered its meter fee by $1 per month.
“That meter fee was enacted to cover the costs of AMI, and dropping the fee by $1 per month, across the board, still leaves the city with enough money to cover the AMI costs,” she explained.
Aldermen voted Thursday to drop the monthly meter fee by $1 Gintz added that the city is in good condition in terms of positive cash flow.