Conyers facing tough budget year

CONYERS -- The City Council was given an overview of the proposed 2012-13 fiscal year budget Wednesday night, with Chief Financial Officer Isabel Rogers calling it one of the most difficult budgets to balance in her years with the city.

"It was quite a challenge," Rogers told the council, noting that at this time there are no furloughs or layoffs included in the proposed budget.

The proposed budget calls for $12.8 million in revenues and expenditures, which is about $700,000 less than the current fiscal year.

Ad valorem taxes, the largest revenue category in the budget, are expected to generate $5.5 million for the new fiscal year -- essentially flat to the current fiscal year. Rogers said Thursday that ad valorem taxes were budgeted down by 8 percent last year.

The overall revenue decrease is spread across several categories, Rogers said, rather than a large shortfall in one or two areas. The budget decreases are based on current year figures.

"There's some in the horse park and some in other taxes and building permits," she said.

Rogers said that most of the budget spending decrease is in frozen positions and a reduction in one-time expenditures from the previous year. In addition, she said that training expenses city-wide, except in cases where the training is mandatory, have been eliminated.

"This year basically I told (department heads) they had to reduce their budget by 10 percent," Rogers said. "Of course, it was not feasible in every department, but that was the principle that we used when we started the budget."

The Police Department, which receives more than $4.2 million of the city's total budget, will see a decrease of about $123,000 in expenditures in the new fiscal year. Rogers said there are no capital expenses budgeted for the department, training costs have been minimized and one-time expenses from the prior year are eliminated.

Human Resources Director Dee Buggay was able to negotiate with the city's health insurance provider to keep rates the same for the upcoming fiscal year, an accomplishment that Rogers said "is almost unheard of."

Rogers said there are no capital expenditures budgeted for any city department for the new fiscal year.

The city's fiscal year begins July 1. The City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget at its next council meeting, set for 7 p.m. June 6 at City Hall.