News and Tribune

April 30, 2013

Jeffersonville city council outlines cuts

Vote on budget reductions expected at the next council meeting

By BRADEN LAMMERS
braden.lammers@newsandtribune.com

JEFFERSONVILLE —

The Jeffersonville City Council mapped out the cuts it plans to make at a special meeting Monday to pull the budget within the reductions needed as a result of circuit breaker tax caps.

The city was forced to cut $3.25 million out of its budget to cover the reductions as a result of hitting the tax caps. The state of Indiana limits how much money can be collected in property taxes. It limits property taxes for individual homeowners at 1 percent of the assessed value of the property, 2 percent for rental properties and 3 percent for businesses. Any amount over the percentages cannot be collected by the taxing unit.

Indiana’s Department of Local Government Finance approved Jeffersonville’s 2013 general fund budget at $25.6 million, the same amount at which it was submitted by the council. The Parks Department budget before the tax caps totaled $2.7 million, and the Sanitation Department’s budget totaled $2.99 million.

With the tax-cap hit taken out of all of the budgets that were approved for the city, the total amount Jeffersonville has to operate on for 2013 was $28 million.  In 2012, the city was forced to cut $3.5 million out of the city budget to account for the caps.

The largest cuts were made to the city’s parks department at $349,202, and the city’s sanitation department at $423,823. Cuts to the parks department also included $245,500 that was cut when the city received its 1782 notice.

According to a worksheet provided by City Controller Amy Deering, the parks department’s major cut came in its capital outlay line item. The total amount cut was $594,702, which reduced the total for 2013 in the line item to $858,119.

Shifting of employees resolved the cuts that needed to be made to the city’s sanitation department.

Stephanie Miller, administrative assistant to the Jeffersonville street commissioner, explained that 16 of the department’s 38 employee salaries should not be in the sanitation department’s budget.

“[Former City Controller Monica Harmon] for some reason, I really don’t know why, moved all of the employees to sanitation, which has caused a big problem to our sanitation budget,” Miller said. “By moving those employees back to motor vehicle ... it will also take the pressure off that budget.”

The 16 employees that were included in the sanitation department’s budget work in the city’s motor vehicle department.

“I don’t think it’ll be a problem, they have plenty of money in motor vehicle,” Miller said.

With the cuts from the two city departments, the city council looked to addressing a remainder of $2.47 million to cut out of the general fund. 

Deering explained that she and Corporation Attorney Les Merkley, in meetings with the department heads, were able to agree to another $1.79 million in cuts. 

The remainder of $679,220 was the amount the council was looking to address Monday.

City Council agreed to across-the-board cuts for performance-based pay, which allows department heads to give their employees raises in a given year. As the council continued to comb through the city’s general fund budget, they went through each department’s line item budget to identify additional reductions.

Among some of the cuts made were for travel and training to several departments, including the Jeffersonville Police Department and the Jeffersonville Fire Department. The council cut its own budget by reducing unemployment and by cutting its capital outlays line item, which the council had set aside for paving and sidewalk construction.

The council agreed to pay those costs out of the city’s Economic Development Income Tax fund.

Minimal cuts were also made to supplies for several departments.

No official action was taken at Monday’s meeting on the cuts proposed. The council directed Deering to verify the reductions outlined and bring it back to their next meeting for a vote.

The city council’s next scheduled meeting is at 7 p.m. Monday, May 6, at Jeffersonville City Hall.