2014 City Budget Ordinance Passes First Reading

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The Lamar City Council passed the 2014 budget ordinance on first reading during a rescheduled public hearing this past Monday night, October 21.  The council will vote on the acceptance of next year’s budget during the regular council meeting on October 28.  Light Plant Superintendent, Houssin Hourieh also presented an overview of the power plant’s 2014 budget at the hearing. 

Lamar City Administrator, John Sutherland, said there will be only a slight decrease of $2,000 in General Fund revenues for 2014, at $7,025,139.  By the same token, he said the city will spend almost $171,600 less for the coming year with the expenditure budget at $6,855,618.  The city will also keep $100,000 in a contingency fund which will be used only on specific authorization from the council.  Sutherland said the 2.5% decrease was brought about through an increase in spending discipline by the city’s department directors.  He added that there has been slight revenue increases to the city in two areas over the past year, a gradual increase in sales taxes and property taxes as a result of a gradually improving housing market in Lamar.  More money is being allocated to improving the streets and water departments for Lamar, with funds for street improvements being more than doubled compared to the 2013 budget.  Repairs on the city’s south well field are critical, Sutherland said and steps have been taken to secure grant funding for improvements to the water lines.  Residents will see an increase in their water bill by $1 per month beginning next year to cover some of those improvements. 

The administrator said there has been a loss in revenue to the city in water sales, due mostly to the stricter conservation methods and water restrictions imposed on customers since this spring.  The city went to Stage 2 water restrictions on May 14.  With less water being sold, there has been less revenue generated for the city.  On that note, Josh Cichocki, City Water/Wastewater Director told the council and audience that those restrictions are not expected to be rescinded.  He also noted that the new water metering devices have been installed throughout the city and some older models have been retrofitted, but it take a while to determine if the more accurate meters will indicate any extra revenue for the city.  “So far,” Cichocki said, “things are going very well.”

By Russ Baldwin




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