Edmond's proposed budget is lower than current budget
EDMOND — The city's proposed general fund budget for expenditures for the new fiscal year is almost $272 million, a decrease of 8.7 percent, or $25.7 million, because officials have seen a downturn in sales tax collections over the last 10 months.
Total appropriations for the 2017-2018 fiscal year are just over $446 million, including revenue for emergencies, special projects and debts, council members were told this week during a budget hearing.
The overall budget decrease is primarily a result of decreased capital spending in the utility funds after initial up-front expenditures, said City Manager Larry Stevens.
Edmond has started a massive five-year, $300 million water and wastewater capital improvement project to accommodate future population growth through additional capacity and up-sizing of the infrastructure.
Council members will make a final decision on the budget June 12.
Estimates are this year's $297 million general fund budget will end up with 1 percent less than its zero-growth sales tax revenue projection.
At this time, the city is about 1.8 percent below projections.
City staff about midyear readjusted this year's budget down 1 percent after sales tax revenue was less than projected.
"The economic downturn continues in Oklahoma, but we remain very fortunate in Edmond," Stevens said. "We are still experiencing less of a decline than most of the other cities in the state."
Edmond's new Finance Director Warren Porter and Assistant Finance Director William Weaver proposed next year's budget, including a 1 percent growth projection.
Utility customer growth, housing increases, sales tax historical perspective and current economic conditions were the reasons for the 1 percent growth projection, Porter said.
Edmond also anticipates it will be collecting additional sales tax that Amazon is expected to collect off online sales, Porter said.
"History tells us there are always increases," he said.
Council members agreed with the 1 percent growth figure, knowing that they can adjust the budget during the fiscal year.
The city manager asked council members also to approve a 1 percent salary increase for nonunion employees in next year's budget.
"The condition would involve an improvement in sales tax collections that would identify at least the start of some form of an upward trend," Stevens said. "Such a determination would be made by me, after consulting with our staff.
"I would like to have this option as we go into the budget year."
The city's nonunion employees also did not receive a percentage increase this budget year.
Edmond is in the second year of a three-year contract with both the fire and police unions.
The city and union negotiation teams will open fiscal year 2019 and 2020 contract discussions about January 2019, said Lisa Goodpasture, human resources director.
Depending on the available revenue and approval by the city council, police will receive 2 percent increases on July 1, the start of the new fiscal year, and Jan. 1.
Firefighters, also with the council's approval and depending on the available revenue, will receive 2.5 percent increases on July 1 and Jan. 1.
Edmond employs 747 full-time employees with a 4.41 percent turnover rate.
City staff is recommending three new full-time positions in next year's budget. Two of the positions are a solid waste driver and a laboratory technician for the water plant. The third position will be a conference service coordinator for the Convention and Visitors Bureau, an additional employee needed as they move into the new conference center.
The proposed budget includes rate increases for water and wastewater services to help pay for the $300 million in utility improvements. This will be the third year of a five-year phased-in rate increase program.
Water rates increase between 4 and 6 percent each year. These increases include both base and volume charges for both residential and nonresidential customers.
Wastewater charges will increase between 10 and 11 percent each year.
"These upgrades are not unique to Edmond," Stevens said. "Cities across the metro are having to deal with this."