City Comes In Under Budget For 2012

City Comptroller Joe Bellitto released the preliminary numbers from the 2012 budget Monday night.

Despite revenues not meeting expectations for the year, expenses also came in at more than $544,000 under budget.

“We used part of our fund balance when we adopted the 2012 budget, so we budgeted for a deficit of $715,000,” said Bellitto. “We actually came in $447,000 better than that, so our deficit for the year was roughly $268,000.”

According to Bellitto, salaries and benefits played a major role in the expenses coming in under budget. Both were under budget for all of the major departments – the Department of Public Works, Parks and Recreation, and the Office of Public Safety. Those departments were also under budget in regard to overtime costs, primarily due to a mild winter on both ends of the year.

“It really helped in contributing to overtime costs being held to what were probably historically low levels,” said Bellitto. “It was good management by all departments in those areas, too.”

At the end of 2011, there were a number of unanticipated retirements, which resulted in savings over the course of 2012 due to the lower beginning salaries of those being brought in to replace the retirees. Bellitto said that those retirements happening after the 2012 budget had already been passed was another contributing factor to the total expenses coming in under budget.

“That’s not to say that everything was perfect, though,” said Bellitto. “During the year, revenues in total were under budget and a lot of our revenues are either flat or declining, so we need to take careful consideration when we put together the 2014 budget and we need to keep an eye on those for the remainder of this year.”

It was a combination of many different forms of revenue, including franchise fees, parking tickets, fines and declining interest rates, that failed to meet expectations and caused the numbers to fall short in 2012. Bellitto says that money from the fund balance will carry over for use in the future.

Tony Dolce, R-Ward 2, who recently took over as the chairman of the Finance Committee, looked at the numbers for 2012 as a mixed bag for the city.

“There is some good news in there, but we want to bring the deficit down as much as possible and move forward that way,” said Dolce, in regard to the year-end summary. “We have contracts that are coming up in 2013, we’re not sure what our state aid is going to be and revenues are always hit or miss. We’ll get our first-quarter sales tax numbers here in the next month, though, so that will give us a good indication of where we’re at. All things considered, beginning with a $715,000 hole, I’d say we did pretty good.”

An audit of the 2012 budget is scheduled to begin in the coming weeks, so the numbers that were released on Monday are still subject to change depending on what is found during that review.