Hobby presents 2015 budget at public hearing

Published 9:01 pm Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tuesday night, City Manager Chris Hobby presented the proposed fiscal year 2015 budget to the Bainbridge City Council.

Hobby said that the budget focuses on maintaining current staff and service levels and does not have funds budgeted for major projects because the city is out of available cash to fall back on.

“We have exhausted the cash available in the general fund,” Hobby said. “For that reason we’re not recommending any capital purchases until at least the midway mark of the next fiscal year. At that point we’ll be able to tell what’s happened to our cash balances, and we’ll be able to see how the revenue is flowing. If it’s not flowing as we predicted, then we won’t recommend any capital purchases whatsoever. We will be recommending other areas of cutting.”

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According to Hobby, the combination of multiple tax exemptions since 2012 has greatly influenced the city’s revenue.

The available cash fund the city has pulled from to make up the difference in revenue loss has decreased from about $670,000 in 2013 to -$440,000 in 2014.

The only area Hobby sees as viable option to make a significant impact is with labor budget cuts. Almost 70 percent of the proposed general fund budget is personnel costs such as salary and employee benefits. The general fund is primarily funded by taxes.

The city hopes to spend less on employee benefits in the upcoming fiscal year after changing insurance provider to Blue Cross Blue Shield, which has predicted savings in benefits costs.

If the city is doing better financially come spring 2015, Hobby said that he will recommend critical capital purchases, which are included in the budget proposal.

Those purchases would include $60,000 in technology upgrades for Bainbridge Public Safety and $100,000 toward street paving.