City of Troy facing budget challenges

Published 10:00 pm Monday, September 22, 2008

With rising expenses outpacing city revenue growth, balancing the City of Troy’s 2009 budget is proving to be a challenge, Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said.

“This is the most difficulty that I’ve had in many years,” Lunsford said.

Lunsford is planing to present a rough draft of the budget to city council members at a meeting today, but is still meeting with city departments to look at cost cutting measures.

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“The expenses are such that we are continually meeting and meeting again with each department,” Lunsford said.

Troy will likely have a $40 million budget for the fiscal year stating Oct. 1 — up from about $38 million this year.

The city has seen some revenue growth this year, Lunsford said — sales tax revenue is up about two percent and ad valorum revenue is up around 15 percent — but the growth has not kept pace with rising expenses.

Fuel cost for city vehicles is a concern, Lusnford said, as is the rising expense of employee salaries. The city considers merit raises each year for employees, and with little turnover, that has lead to a growing expense for the city.

“It takes a pretty substantial growth in the revenue of the city to maintain that when you don’t have turnover,” Lunsford said.

Rising costs have also impacted the city’s utility department and Lunsford has proposed an electricity rate increase of around 14 percent to offset operating expenses.

An ordinance to amend the city’s electric rates will go before the city council for a vote today. If passed, it will increase the rate for residential customers from 6.8 cents per kilowatt hour to 7.8 cents per KWH.

The council will also vote today on an ordnance to reappoint Lunsford as superintendent of the city’s utilities department.

The council will meet at 5 p.m. at city hall.