News and Tribune

October 29, 2012

New Albany budget vote tonight: $20M budget up about $1.2M from last year


NEW ALBANY — The New Albany City Council is slated to take a final ballot this evening on next year’s $20 million general fund budget, which includes a 2 percent pay increase for most employees, a $100,000 bump in parks spending and an increase in street department funding.

Officials from Mayor Jeff Gahan’s administration said Friday there shouldn’t be a scramble at the end of 2013 to balance the budget as has happened in recent years.

Shane Gibson, an attorney for the city who assists with financial matters for the administration, said the council will be voting on a “balanced proposed budget” at 7:30 p.m.

The budget and related salary ordinances were approved on first and second readings earlier this month without much discussion from the council. Aided by the remainder of a federal public safety grant and the shifting of $600,000 in 911 dispatch costs to a different account, the scheduled general fund budget is about $1.2 million more next year than in 2012.

The 2011 budget had to be offset with a $2.3 million appropriation last November, as there was a rollover of expenses from previous years due to shortfalls that weren’t funded.

Gibson said such a scenario as in 2011 isn’t expected for 2013.

City employees except fire and police workers will receive a 2 percent raise next year if the budget is approved. While other city workers haven’t received a pay increase in several years, police and fire employees have an annual 1 percent longevity raise built into their contracts.

The budget is being voted on in a special session to meet the state requirement that the final ballot not be cast until at least 10 days after the public hearing on the plan.

The public hearing was during the Oct. 18 regular council meeting, and the city has until the end of the month to approve the budget.

Bicentennial funding to get final vote

An appropriation of $85,000 for New Albany Bicentennial Commission funding is set for a final ballot as well this evening. The proposal was approved on first and second readings Oct. 1, however the amount of the funding could change before the final ballot is taken.

Councilman Bob Caesar, who is also a member of the bicentennial commission, said whether it’s $35,000 or $85,000, the money will be used to “increase our cash flow so we can plan some more” events for next year’s 200th anniversary celebration.

The commission has widely relied on private funding for expenses tied to planning such as paying reservation costs to book buildings for expenses. The aim of the commission is to use proceeds from the sales of the city’s bicentennial book to pay back any taxpayer funds spent on the events, Caesar continued.

The book, “Historic New Albany, Indiana: By the River’s Edge,” was released earlier this month. The New Albany Redevelopment Commission provided a potentially forgivable loan for the production of the 5,000 copies of the book, which are being sold for $40.

Caesar said the commission will send out letters to local businesses asking them to purchase the book or carry editions to sell. He expects the business community will respond and there won’t be a problem selling the books.

Town Clock Church up for $75,000

After being approved on initial readings by a 7-2 margin earlier this month, the council will take a final vote on spending $75,000 toward the restoration of the historic Town Clock Church.

Several organizations including Historic Landmarks, Develop New Albany and the Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County are assisting in the preservation effort, which would include the construction of a new steeple to sit atop the more than 160-year-old structure.

The repair estimate for the total project including the steeple is $403,500. The council will likely discuss obtaining an easement on the church property if the funding is OK’d.

The sponsor of the measure, Councilman John Gonder, indicated Friday he’d be willing to compromise on the requirements attached to the funding in order to see the appropriation approved.

“Anything that makes it go forward and saves the church, saves the steeple, I’m all for it,” he said.