Extra funds may aid city’s ’03 budget | NevadaAppeal.com
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Extra funds may aid city’s ’03 budget

jill lufrano

Carson City may have an extra $700,000 to help pay for this fiscal year’s expenses, officials said Thursday.

An estimated $1 million was saved in salaries and wages in 2003, but some state revenues received came in under what was expected. Whatever is left over, expected to be about $700,000, may be used to supplement this year’s budget, said acting Finance Director Tom Minton.

Some of that could be used to breath life back into the city’s already depleted contingency fund, moneys used by the city to pay for unexpected or emergency costs not budgeted. Out of $500,000 set aside by supervisors in July, the city has spent all but $2,235.

Pay raises and medical costs for indigent residents have taken a substantial bite out of the contingency fund. This year, supervisors granted a raise authorized by the Legislature for the city’s elected officials costing the city $130,000.

The city also paid $6,000 for an Ethics Commission assessment required by passage of a legislative bill requiring counties with more than 10,000 residents to pay a portion of the commission’s operating budget.

Negotiations with the Sheriff’s Department Protective Association contract resulted in $140,000 to pay for raises, taking another chunk of the city’s emergency funding.

Carson paid $145,000 from the fund, mostly to cover overrun costs to care for indigent seniors at convalescent homes and some to care for indigent sick prisoners. By state law, Carson is required to cover the medical costs of seniors and inmates who can’t afford to pay.

An audit of city accounts is expected to be complete by December. Additional funds found in the audit may be released in January.

Mayor Ray Masayko said he would like to see the money be spent on one-time expenditures cut from this year’s budget.

“There were some departments out there that felt when the freeze came, they delayed purchases,” Masayko said. “Perhaps they deserve consideration.”

Supervisor Robin Williamson said she would like the board to also make a decision about what they will do with $775,000 left in a city fund used in the past by departments to purchase items or training to improve efficiency or productivity. The city froze spending from the account last year after sales tax revenues dived following the departure of Wal-Mart and Kmart.

The fund, called Continuous Quality Improvement program, came from departments setting aside 30 percent of budgetary savings in past years. A city team reviewed and approved spending it on computers, training or equipment, Minton said.

“I would like to, as a result of this review, bring back CQI funding and look at what this board would like to do,” Williamson said.

Supervisors were briefed Thursday on first-quarter finances. The city has spent less than expected in the first quarter, possibly $100,000 to $200,000 less, and revenues are on track with projections, Minton said. The city has spent an estimated $500,000 less than what it spent last year at this time, officials said.

Gas tax revenue is up 10 percent from a year ago. Minton said he attributes the rise to the cost of gasoline or maybe more visitors in the area.

Water user fee revenues are up, as is income from building permits during this summer’s building season, Minton said.

Masayko praised city staff for cooperating with spending cuts and maintaining the current budget after a sharp decline in revenues.

“We’re OK with what we budgeted. Unless there’s an unexpected turnaround, we will not have to declare another emergency,” Masayko said.