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Prescott finalizes $160.1 million budget
6/26/2012 9:58:00 PM
By Cindy Barks
PRESCOTT - An annual budget that includes 10 fewer staff positions than were in last year's budget got the final stamp of approval by the
Prescott City Council
In a 6-1 vote on Tuesday, the council approved a $160.1 million spending limitation for the 2012-13 fiscal year, which begins on July 1.
Among the documents that the council perused prior to the adoption was a "roster of jobs," which included 504.75 fulltime-equivalent positions. That compares with 514.25 fulltime-equivalent positions in the 2011-12 budget.
The new total reflects the subtraction of the four positions that the city cut this past week in the latest round of layoffs, Budget and Finance Director Mark Woodfill said after the meeting.
Those layoffs included one position each from: community development, the tourism department, risk management, and the city manager's office.
In addition, City Manager Craig McConnell told the council, "Some of these positions were vacated because of retirements. Some of the positions have been eliminated."
Overall, since the start of the economic downturn in about 2008, Woodfill said the city is down 60 to 70 positions. "We were at about 570 (during the peak)," he said.
After the meeting, Councilman Jim Lamerson, who cast the sole vote against the budget, said last week's decision on layoffs entered into his decision.
"There's a multitude of reasons," Lamerson said of his vote against the budget.
While noting that "by the City Charter, I do not have the authority to interfere with the city manager's job, except for the right of inquiry," Lamerson said, "I didn't agree with some of the position changes."
He also opposed some of the proposed expenditures included in the budget, such as the $500,000 that the city has allocated for open space acquisition.
"It's not that I don't like open space," Lamerson said. "But the priority should be to fix the roads."
The two issues became combined in 2000, when voters approved a sales tax extension initiative for street improvements and open space, with as much as $40.7 million going toward open space acquisition. To date, the city has spent about $16 million on open space. The initiative ends in 2015.
In response to Lamerson's announcement that he would vote against the final budget adoption, Councilman Charlie Arnold said, "I take a different approach to the budget; I think we have made vast improvements."
Tuesday's public hearing generated relatively few comments on the proposed budget.
As she has at previous budget discussions, Friends of the
Prescott Public Library
President Marjory Sente opposed the city's move toward meeting-room rental fees at the Prescott Public Library.
Noting that the meeting rooms contribute to the library's learning atmosphere, Sente called the proposal to charge rent for some of the rooms a "dark smudge on the
City of Prescott
." She was hopeful that upcoming negotiations between city officials and library advocates would lead to "some compromises."
Woodfill said this week's vote was the "next to last step" in the approval of the 2012-13 budget. Still to come on July 10 is consideration of the property tax levy for the coming year.
While the city is proposing that the primary tax rate stay the same for the next year (at 0.1978), it is recommending a slight increase (from 0.2445 to 0.2854) in secondary property tax, which goes to pay off the city's 1998 purchase of Willow and Watson lakes.
Officials say the increase is necessary to make up for a decrease in property valuations over the past year. "That's what we need to satisfy the bond," Woodfill said.
Citywide, the increase will generate about $1,625 more in secondary property taxes.
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