Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Highlights Fiscal Year 2014 Metro Budget

From the Mayors Office:

Highlights Fiscal Year 2014 Budget 
Mayor Karl Dean today discussed highlights of Metro’s Fiscal Year 2013-2014 proposed operating budget and capital spending plan. “We have been conservative but optimistic, and so with this year’s budget there are no surprises,” Mayor Dean said. “We are in a good position to implement the same philosophy that has driven our budget decisions from day one: focus on services, invest in our priorities and cut back where we can. This budget allows us to continue our city’s momentum, but in a way that is prudent and fiscally responsible.”

Operating Budget
  • Recommended budget of $1.8 billion, representing a 5.86 percent increase over FY 2012-2013.
  • No proposed increase in property taxes. The tax rate will go down because of the property reappraisal and the increase in property values in recent years (by state law, municipalities cannot collect more revenue from a reappraisal).
  • Projected revenue growth of $55.3 million, mostly from increased collections of the local option sales tax ($24.2 million) and property tax collections ($16.4 million).
  • Metro Schools will continue to receive the largest portion of the budget at 41 percent, and public safety will get the second largest part at 22 percent.
  • Metro Schools will receive an additional $26 million.
    • Their budget has increased by $126 million since Mayor Dean’s first budget.
    • Metro Schools’ $746 million budget is a 3.61 percent increase over the current fiscal year.
  • Metro Police will receive an additional $2.8 million.
    • The increase will fund staff for the city’s new DNA Crime Lab, which will open in January, and will allow DNA tests for at least twice as many cases than are currently being sent to the TBI due to the state lab’s constraints.
    • The increase will also staff the new Madison Police Precinct, which only operated for part of the current fiscal year and will need a full year of funding going forward.
  • Parks will receive $878,400, in large part to cover maintenance and mowing and staff two new community centers.
    • Since Mayor Dean took office, the city has added 1,500 acres of new park land, all of which needs to be maintained. Other parks will be mowed more frequently.
    • Community centers in Sevier Park and Joelton will open this fiscal year and need funds for staff and operating expenses.
  • Nashville Public Library will receive $469,700, primarily to open the main library downtown on Mondays.
  • The Health Department will receive $150,000 for three additional animal control officers. These additional positions will help restrict the population growth of unwanted animals.
  • MTA will receive an increase of $4 million to fund a full year of operation for the new University Connector, the city’s first crosstown route that began operating shortly after the 28th/31st Avenue Connector opened last fall and the new Murfreesboro Road bus rapid transit (BRT) lite service.
  • An increase of $350,000 for the Community Enhancement Fund, a program in which Metro awards grants to nonprofits that provide services in three critical areas: domestic violence, education or afterschool care, and direct community service. The increase will add a fourth category of adult literacy.
  • An additional $57 million in debt service payments. Anticipating this higher debt payment, past budgets set aside additional reserves to help cover these costs. City reserves will remain higher than when Mayor Dean first took office.
Capital Spending Plan

  • The largest portion of the proposed $300 million capital spending plan is $95 million for Metro Schools.
    • Funding for Goodlettsville Middle School and Tusculum Elementary to be replaced, Waverly Belmont to be renovated and opened, and build a new elementary school.
    • The $95 million builds on the $100 million in capital dollars Metro Schools received last year. In total, Mayor Dean has provided $388 million in capital spending to Metro Schools since taking office. 
  • The rest of the capital spending plan is set aside for general government projects, including Public Works, Library maintenance, Parks improvements, fire halls and MTA.
My Comment:
Just because the Mayor has proposed a no-tax-increase budget the Council should not roll over and play dead.  The Council should look hard for inefficiencies and waste and examine the budget to insure that it reflects the values of this community and our priorities and it does not lay the groundwork for future tax increases.

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