City Budget Shows Positives, Negatives So Far

The city’s budget is looking to be a mixed bag so far this year.

Joe Bellitto, city comptroller, gave council members an update on the budget at Monday’s meeting. While some areas of the budget were positive, there were also several areas that were not showing as much promise as city officials had hoped when the budget was being assembled last year.

According to Bellitto, four of the five divisions of the BPU are currently running with a revenue surplus. Collectively, the BPU is about $100,000 over budget on the revenue side.

“We hope that this continues for the next six months,” said Bellitto. “Hopefully this hot weather will help with that.”

In other revenue categories, in total, the city is close to the budgeted amounts with a few exceptions. Revenue from the gross utility tax, interest and on-street parking meters are under budget for the first half of the year. In a couple of weeks, the city will receive its second quarter sales tax payment from the county, which is an important milestone and good indicator of financial health.

Salt use for the Department of Public Works has already surpassed the amount that was budgeted, due in part to a lingering winter.

“We’ve already exceeded our entire salt budget for the year by $24,000,” said Bellitto. “We do have some salt stored in our new storage facility that we haven’t had in prior years, though, so that will help a little bit. It’s certainly a concern as we head into the second half of the year.”

Bellitto noted that last year was an ideal year for salt use, which caused city officials to take a chance on reducing the salt budget for 2013 by roughly $20,000.

“That’s come back to haunt us a bit here,” said Bellitto.

Corresponding to the increased salt use, gasoline and diesel consumption for the DPW is roughly 28 percent higher this year, only accounting for the first five months of the year.

“We haven’t been given the June bill, but we’ve used half of the budget in five months,” said Bellitto.

The police, fire and parks departments, however, have all consumed less gasoline and diesel than they had at this point last year, which is a good sign for the city.

One sector of concern, however, is overtime, where the city has seen some overspending this year. So far, the city is at 54 percent of the budgeted amount for the DPW and Parks department, as compared to 43 percent at this time last year. The fire department has also seen an increase in the amount of overtime for its employees, due in part to injuries.

“Battalion Chief (Sam) Salemme and I met last week because we had some concerns with our overtime budget for the fire department,” said Bellitto. “There are currently five firefighters that are injured, which has and will incur considerable overtime as we go through the summer period.”

The fire department overtime budget was reduced by $29,000 this year due to two years with low injuries and low overtime.

Additionally, health insurance claims for the city are up approximately 7.5 percent this year, but are still within the budget.

A more complete picture of the financial health of the city will be available after the second quarter sales tax payments are received.