Preliminary numbers for the City of Chadron’s next fiscal year leave the city with a $1.3 million shortfall across all major funds.
City Manager Greg Yanker presented the initial look the figures Monday for the general, street, water and wastewater funds and said moving forward staff will begin prioritizing projects in an effort to bring revenues and expenditures into balance.
“These numbers are very preliminary,” Yanker cautioned. “This is to allow the discussion on what we do to move forward.”
The total revenues built in to the budget’s general fund for 2019-20 are more than $330,000 lower than what was budgeted for the current fiscal year.
“The major change is the collection of the fuel revenues,” Yanker said, with that figure dropping nearly $300,000 on its own. The city is selling less fuel due to changes at the airport that have occurred since it’s been without a fixed-base operator. The city is currently seeking a new FBO.
City staff has also budgeted $88,000 less in the street fund revenue line items as it is still in the dark on what it’s highway allocation funding may be. The staff calculated the preliminary numbers using a five-year average.
“We’re being very, very conservative right now,” Yanker said. “I think it’s important we underestimate these.”
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The water and wastewater funds also show a decrease in revenues of a combined $150,000, as the city sees reduced usage, possibly due to rate increases implemented last year.
On the expense side of the preliminary budget, a 3% wage increase has been included for staff, whose salaries were frozen in the current fiscal year.
The figures also include a list of capital asset needs – major items the city would like to accomplish in the coming year if funding is available. That list includes three vehicles, a credit card machine for the airport fuel sales, a records management system update at the police department, a mower, a snowblower, a snow plow, water tank cleaning and annual projects in the street, water and wastewater departments. It also includes the purchase of a new crash truck, with the cost to be split between the fire department, ambulance and the rural fire district, and funding in a sinking fund for a new ladder truck for the VFD.
Finally, it incorporates the repairs to the parking lot at the Chadron Area Aquatics and Wellness Center, a project the city agreed to help fund with the local school district when the facility was constructed. The city had hoped to complete the project in the current fiscal year and had $25,000 budgeted for it; however, bids came in at more than $100,000, twice what the entities estimated it would cost.
“Not all of the capital needs are going to be able to be funded,” Yanker said. “What does that mean? That means we’re going to have to identify needs, wants and must-haves and get it to a balanced budget.”
On the list of must-haves already are the new credit card machine at the airport and the water tank cleaning. The current credit card machine is no longer supported by the manufacturer, and the tank cleaning is mandated by the state every five years.
The Chadron Record will have additional coverage of the city's preliminary budget discussions in next week's issue.