Mt. Vernon Register-News

March 26, 2014

City budget on course

The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — The city budget is showing expenses and revenues at close the to expected 75 percent mark.

"We should, theoretically, be at 75 percent, and we're just under at 73.4 percent on revenues in general corporate," said City Finance Director Merle Hollmann. "Even though our revenues came in at a slower pace than expected, the expenses came in at a slower pace than the revenues have."

The fiscal year started May 1, and the council received a third quarter update on the budget on Monday. The operating cash balance for general corporate on April 30, 2013, was at $3.1 million — and at $2.9 million on Jan. 31.

In the working fund, the balance at the beginning of the fiscal year was at $3.7 million, and at $3.5 million on Jan. 31.

Actual revenues as a percentage of the budget in the general corporate fund are at 73.4 percent, and actual expenditures are at 71.1 percent.

Hollmann reminded council members the budget for the fiscal year included a budgeted deficit of $611,135.

"At this time, the deficit is still there, but down to a deficit of $214,000," Hollmann said. "From the standpoint that it could have been much larger, it's a good thing. ... We're working on numbers now to see if that will be even smaller."

When moving on to the Public Utilities Fund, Hollmann said the numbers may change once all water meters are read instead of estimating bills.

"This winter, we haven't been able to read all the meters due to the weather," Hollmann explained. "We can't read our meters if there is 2-inches of snow on the ground or the temperature is less than 19 degrees because if you open the lid, it will freeze up. We've never had to estimate as much as we have this winter. Some customers have had three months of estimated bills in a row. The estimates are inaccurate."

Hollmann asked Public Utilties Director Steve McCoy to provide information on the number of water main breaks. For the fiscal year through March 21, there have been 172 water main breaks, resulting in an unknown amount of water loss. The number of water main leaks is down with fiscal year 2012-13 through March 31 coming in with 197 breaks.

In addition, Mayor Mary Jane Chesley said she believes there may be some funds not received from the former Park Plaza water leak.

"The water tank went down and we worked to locate the leak," Chesley explained. "Someone went by the post office and saw water standing in one building, they could see it. It was like a swimming pool and it all rushed out when they opened the door, and all because of a frozen water pipe."

Hollmann said almost every meter has been read in person and not estimated for March.