City Manager Scott Neal made a summary presentation on the budget to the City Council on Tuesday night. It included highlights of the public engagement budget process with the Citizens League, some discussion, and then a unanimous vote to approve it.
Rousing success might be a little too enthusiastic, but I think I can say that it went pretty well. In my blog yesterday, I predicted that we’d get to budget around 9 pm and wrap up the meeting around 10 pm. By golly, that wasn’t to far from the actual time frame. We started consideration of the budget around 8:15 pm and wrapped up the meeting at 10:10 pm. Not bad.
The Council approved the budget as proposed. I gave a short summary of the budget contents in yesterday’s post, so I won’t get into that again today. Suffice it to say, a post describing the contents of the budget in detail would be unreadable in length. It might not be all that interesting either.
We will put final touches on the approved 2012 budget during the last few days of 2011 as we get ready for the year ahead. This is normally a time when workloads wind down a bit, but we’ve got a lot going on right now, so it’s back at it. Edina is no place for slackers.
Tonight is Budget Night. Well, technically, it’s a City Council Meeting night. But for those of us involved in the city government budget making process, tonight is the night when the City Council takes final action on the proposed City budget for 2012-2013. Tonight is the culmination of a long process and a lot hard work. It’s the night where the City Council can come together nicely or break into factions.
What will happen tonight? I am not a betting man, but I believe the Edina City Council will end the night coming together rather breaking apart. The budget proposal that I will be making to them tonight is a reasonable one. It grows some services (economic development, facility management and environment protection), but holds most everything else we do at current levels. It places a stronger emphasis on tighter management of our municipal enterprises (golf course, ice arena, art center, aquatic center, liquor store, etc.). It includes additional funding ($700,000) for capital improvements and ($300,000) for technology upgrades.
Our Total Tax Levy increase to support all of the above, and much much more, is 1.79% from 2011. This creates an increase in tax burden for the median single family home in Edina of 2.7%, or $28 for the year. I’ve been in the city management business long enough that I know enough not to call that increase low. But, I will call it modest, particularly when the 2011 Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) is currently projected to end 2011 at +3.5%.
It’s about 3 hours until the Council meeting starts. I suspect we will be getting to the budget discussion around 9pm. If all goes well, we will have a budget approved and ready to share with the world by 10pm tonight.
Like the face-to-face sessions, the webinar will be hosted by Stacy Becker of the Citizens League. Edina City Manager Scott Neal will be on hand to answer questions, and I’ll be doing the technical orchestration.
What do I need to do to participate? A computer that’s connected to the internet, with speakers and a microphone. If you don’t have a mic, you can call in via telephone.
How do I participate? You watch your screen, listen to the presenters, and optionally type questions and comments in a chat window or ask to speak via your mic or phone. See the GoToWebinar Quick Reference Guide for more details.
What if I can’t attend or can only attend part of it? We’ll record the webinar and make it available for anyone to watch at anytime.
In September, the City Council set the maximum tax levy for 2012. The preliminary General Fund expenditure budget prepared by City Manager Scott Neal is $30,604,436. The preliminary expenditure budget for the General Fund, the equipment replacement program within the Construction Fund, and all debt levies is $36,440,420.
Neal prepared the draft budget with several goals in mind, including stabilizing City operations and employee headcount, keeping employee compensation at market levels and maximizing use of available unreserved fund balances.
The City’s current unreserved fund balance is nearly $2.5 million. Neal has proposed transferring $700,000 to the Construction Fund and spending $100,000 to re-codify local ordinances, $100,000 to modernize human resources operations and $100,000 to respond to findings of a recent compensation study. The rest of the money would be used to restructure the City’s debt and provide property tax relief.
Total of all levies would increase by $462,009, or 1.8 percent. The 1.8 percent increase would be the maximum property tax increase the City could levy. However, expenditures and revenues could change before final budget adoption.
A public hearing on the budget and levy will be held Dec. 6. The Council will act on the budget and levy at its meeting Dec. 20.
At last week’s meeting, the Edina City Council adopted the preliminary 2012 tax levy and operating budget. See the Staff Report that was in their packet and the video clip of the agenda item when it was discussed.
Staff are completing work on the final draft of the proposed 2012-2013 budget. We are giving it finishing touches before sharing with the City Council at the September 6 Council Work Session.
My goal is to offer the Council a draft budget that they can feel comfortable adopting later that same evening at the Council meeting. The Council must set the City’s 2012 preliminary tax levy at the September 6 Council meeting. They do not need to adopt a budget, just the preliminary tax levy. The preliminary tax levy is the City’s maximum levy, so it’s important to set a number that will be big enough, but not too big.
I’ve been working with staff to prepare a General Fund budget draft with a total tax levy increase in 2012 of less than 2% and a levy increase in 2013 of less than 3%. It’s a tough challenge, but I think that trying to keep the levy increase to around this level is important. We want to be sensitive to local economic conditions and keep our municipal services strong.
I plan to finish talks with Department Heads tomorrow and get stuff out to Council Members tomorrow afternoon. I’ll update this blog next week with the results of our discussion.
Eric Roggeman is the Assistant Finance Director for the City of Edina. He is a very sharp guy. If you’ve never met Eric, pay attention to the City’s budget prep process this year. He’ll be involved in the behind the scenes work, but also in the public presentation work as well.
Anyway, Eric dropped by my office today to leave me a draft copy of the City’s 2010 Financial Audit. The audit is prepared by an outside professional accounting firm, pursuant to the requirements of Minnesota law. It is a very important document in our budgeting process because not only does it tell us how last year ended, but also how this year started. See the 2009 Financial Audit for comparison (PDF).
The City Council will receive the audit at their July 5 City Council meeting. They will also receive a presentation from a representative from the auditing firm at that same meeting.
Our City’s financial performance last year was strong, despite the strains in the national, state and local economy. I think that’s all that I’ll say about that for now. If you want to watch the presentation, join us at the City Council on July 5 at 7pm in the City Chambers in City Hall. Or, catch the video rebroadcast of the meeting online starting July 6.