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City OKs $119M budget

COVINGTON -- The City Council approved the 2010-11 budget Monday night without fanfare.

There was little discussion needed for a budget that shows a surplus in excess of $1 million. Revenues for the fiscal year beginning July 1 are projected to total $119,139,822, with expenditures at $118,053,667. The millage rate will remain at 8.208 mills, a rate that has been maintained since 2007.

Though the city has felt the sting of the economic downturn -- the budget has decreased by about $15 million in the last two years and property taxes this year are down by more than $1 million -- officials say frugality and planning for the worst before it happens have helped keep Covington in good financial standing.

Capital projects in this year's budget, at less than $10 million, have been reduced from years past. Included is about $3.5 million for improvements and expansion of the airport, some of which are contingent upon the city receiving a grant; about $3 million in the gas and electric departments that may be contingent upon new development; and water and sewer upgrades and new installations totaling about $1 million.

The city has reduced its staff by about 50 employees since 2007, though there have been no layoffs or furloughs. Most reductions have been the result of attrition and employees taking advantage of early retirement incentives, according to City Manager Steve Horton.

"To say the city of Covington hasn't had to do anything is not a fair statement," Horton previously told the Citizen. "But right now, this year, it's a pretty good picture. What it is next year is what we worry about. We're always in process mode and planning mode."