City approves $124M budget

COVINGTON -- The Covington City Council approved the fiscal year 2013 budget at its June 18 meeting.

The council approved a budget with revenues totaling $124,396,255 and expenditures of $123,491,864. Portions of the surplus will go into the employee retirement fund and the cemetery fund leaving a reserve net of $672,371.

The millage rate is expected to remain the same at 8.2 mils. The council is expected to vote on the millage rate at its July 16 meeting.

In other news, the council voted against putting a separate line on customers' utility bills to show the charges related to compliance with federal environmental regulations.

Electricity bills will increase beginning July, as the PCA, or power cost adjustment, is increasing from 18.7 mils to 27.1 mils. The majority of the increase -- 5.8 mils -- is related to environmental compliance regulations set by the federal government. The PCA is how the city passes along the cost to purchase power to its customers rather than constantly changing rates.

"I guess to me it's important that people understand what goes into those fees," said Mayor Ronnie Johnston.

But some council members thought having the environmental component listed separately would only confuse customers.

"I think it's going to be confusing. I don't think it's going to be as crystal clear to the people as it was to you," said Councilwoman Janet Goodman, adding that, "It's not going to be self explanatory ... They're not going to worry about that; they just worry about bottom line."

The motion to include a separate line item on the bills failed by a vote of 4 to 2, with Councilmen Mike Whatley and Keith Dalton in favor and Councilmen Chris Smith, Goodman and Councilwomen Hawnethia Williams and Ocie Franklin opposed.

The increase in electric bills will depend on a customer's usage. A customer with a monthly usage of 1,000 kilowatts will see an increase of approximately $8.40 per month, according to City Manager Steve Horton. A customer with a monthly usage of 2,000 kilowatts will see an increase of about $16.80.

Finally, as part of its efforts to continue to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the city has inspected 10 facilities and identified $36,000 in corrective measures that need to be taken. The council approved the expenditure.