City finds $1.4 million extra from last year’s budget | NevadaAppeal.com
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City finds $1.4 million extra from last year’s budget

Jill Lufrano

Cash-strapped Carson City will have an extra $1.4 million this fiscal year after financial analysts identified leftover money from last year’s budget, city officials said Monday.

The cash will likely be used to replenish a depleted emergency fund and pay for one-time expenses. Some might be carried over into next fiscal year, beginning in July, to pay for capital costs like new fire engines, police vehicles or computers.

A financial report to be presented Thursday to supervisors shows city departments effectively froze spending and saved money after management directed staff to conserve.

The city lost two major sales tax revenue sources last year with the departure of Wal-Mart and Kmart so was prepared for a dramatic decrease in revenues, said Finance Director Tom Minton.

“We were very happy about when the board asked people to freeze capital spending that all the city departments pitched in,” Minton said.

Revenues decreased 3.2 percent overall from the prior year, compared to an increase of 8 percent realized by the city the year prior. But the city expected to lose more than that, Minton said. Unemployment rose from 5.7 percent to 6.2 percent.

“(Revenues) came in better than expected, due largely to a recovering economy and better than expected auto and gasoline sales,” Minton said.

In all, revenues to the city’s general fund decreased by $2.3 million during the fiscal year as a result of a decrease in sales tax collections, state grants related to the construction of the Carson City freeway and the transfer of motor vehicle fuel tax to the Street Maintenance Fund, the report found.

City staff spent $1.86 million less than what was budgeted for fiscal year July 2002 to June 2003. Public safety saved $573,000, public works saved $268,000, and parks and recreation underspent by $263,000. General government functions spent $504,000 less than budgeted.

Supervisors expect to decide what to do with the $1.4 million in January, said City Manager Linda Ritter.

“I think it was a positive financial report,” Ritter said. “It shows the city is prudent in its spending.”

Anticipating a decline in sales tax revenue, city leaders set aside $3 million last year to hold in case of natural disasters or emergencies. The funding remains untouched, Ritter said.

“We still have concerns about the future,” she said. “We have to move forward cautiously.”

Contact Jill Lufrano at jlufrano@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.