By BRADEN LAMMERS
To operate the city in 2014, the Jeffersonville City Council will seek a $3 million increase in funding.
The initial steps to finance the city of Jeffersonville for 2014 were taken Monday as the first reading on next year’s budget was approved by the council. A total budget amount came in at $50.9 million, a more than $3 million increase over this year’s budget. The $50 million figure included all city funds, including the general fund budget.
A total property tax levy of $25 million with a total tax rate of 2.4 percent was also part of the initial figures included in the first look at the budget.
“We have reverted back to the 2013 budget with the additions and reductions that have occurred throughout the year,” said City Controller Amy Deering. “This is an inflated number, which is based off of our advertised amount,” she said of the totals presented. “We won’t know what our actual rate is until it’s certified next year.”
Indiana’s Department of Local Government Finance typically returns a certified budget amount to a city in late winter or early spring of the year for which it is operating.
Councilman Mike Smith said he did not want to wait to make some cuts to the budget that was presented.
“We as a council voted to take the 2013 budget, include the circuit breaker cuts and make that our 2014 budget starting off,” Smith said. “And the budget we have doesn’t reflect that.”
The state of Indiana limits how much money can be collected in property taxes via a circuit breaker tax cap. For individual homeowners, property taxes are limited 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. The city council was saddled with a $3.2 million tax cut after the certified budget amount had been returned by the state. No cuts were required by the city council once the 2013 general fund budget was returned by the state —at $25.6 million— on top of the tax cap cuts.
Smith requested the council meet in a a workshop to go over the budget again and cut out the money that the city did not receive this year as a result of the tax caps.
The budget is expected to be approved on its second and third readings at the council’s next meeting on Oct. 21. The budgets are due to the state by Nov. 1.
The last step was also taken to address changes in pay for 11 city employees.
While the change will increase the employees’ pay, Jeffersonville Human Resources Director Kim Calabro said the changes are not considered raises.
She said it is the final piece of a series of recommendations that resulted from a wage study undertaken by the city. ParkLand HR Services LLC presented a series of recommendations to Jeffersonville’s pay scale and salary ordinance, which was compared to other cities of similar size and Indiana and Bureau of Labor of Statistics figures.
Among the recommendations was to shrink the salary ordinance from 16 to 10 pay grades. When the changes were made a new hire, under the ordinance passed in May, could be making more than a person who has been working for the city for several years.
The policy outlined employee salaries should take into account service, length of time and performance. As a result the recommendation was made to increase the employees’ pay.
“If we’re not going to abide by the policy and pay for performance, why have a policy?” Calabro asked rhetorically. “It kind of violates the whole intent of what we were trying to achieve five years ago when we began this process.”
Out of the 11 employees that had their pay rates changed, the largest adjustment was an increase of $4.14, with most adjustments being $2 or less. The total combined changed from the city and the wastewater department was $36,805.
The council agreed to make the changes for equity pay effective Nov. 1 and the changes will not be retroactive.