By DANIEL SUDDEATH
NEW ALBANY —
New Albany’s tax and fee collections should rise enough next year for the city’s budget to increase to more than $22 million, administration officials said.
Budget hearings began last week as the New Albany City Council held a workshop Thursday to discuss the 2014 fiscal plan. Shane Gibson, an attorney with the city’s legal department, estimated New Albany should garner enough funding to foot a $22.36 million general fund budget for next year. The increase would account for a bump of about $2 million, or about 10 percent, from this year’s general fund budget, as the city is on pace to spend just more than $20 million for 2013.
Gibson stressed that the estimate is preliminary until the state confirms more financial numbers, including expected revenue for next year.
“It’s based upon the income that we anticipate,” Gibson said.
One reason the general fund will be increased is that the bulk of the New Albany Parks Department’s operations budget will be drawn from it next year. The anticipated budget for parks is $939,000 for 2014, which is up slightly from the amount spent between the general fund and nonreverting funds on the department this year. The proposed parks budget for 2014 includes funding for equipment repair as well as for maintenance and upgrades to some existing facilities.
The parks department is refurbishing the Bud Flynn Center off East Market Street near Bicknell Park, and it will likely serve as the parks headquarters once the work is completed.
The council and administration will hold budget workshops through September. A public hearing on the 2014 budget is slated for 7:15 p.m. Oct. 7, and the council is scheduled to adopt the fiscal plan during its Oct. 17 meeting.
As proposed, all city employees would receive a 3 percent pay increase next year.
Though department heads discussed on Thursday limiting part-time employees to 30 hours or less a week next year, Gibson said on Friday it hasn’t been determined whether such a mandate will be issued to avoid having to pay health care costs in the future.
Under the Affordable Care Act, large employers will be penalized if they fail to offer health insurance to any worker who clocks 30 or more hours weekly based on an average determined by a trial period. That section of the legislation was to go into effect next year, but it has been delayed. The Floyd County Commissioners approved earlier this year limiting part-time employees to 28 hours a week to avoid providing health insurance or being penalized.
Council members conceded more meetings are needed to get a firm grasp on the budget, but most stated they were generally pleased with the financial status of the city.
The amount of money available to the city from taxes and fees has risen over the past five years, as council members recalled having to approve final-hour appropriations in December to plug gaps in funding. There also were deficit rollovers during past years that cut into the general fund revenue.
“It was a nightmare,” Councilman Bob Caesar said. “I know I have a great deal of confidence in these numbers, where before it was like, “I hope the money comes in February.”