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Hockessin Community News
  • Proposed Smyrna budget still includes no tax increase after changes

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  • The Smyrna Finance Committee met again last night at town hall to continue work on the 2013 budget.
    Following last week's meeting, the town's Manager of Finance Gary Stulir went back to work on the budget including the suggestions made by the committee. Even though the committee left the meeting with a budget Mayor Pat Stombaugh felt was in pretty good shape, Stulir realized some of the numbers weren't adding up correctly. Instead of a balanced budget that didn't include a tax increase, Stulir said the town faced a deficit of roughly $283,000.
    Previous recommendation
    The proposed budget leaving last week's meeting featured new positions, heavy equipment and several capital projects, most of which already had funding. In order to get $519,000 worth of heavy equipment, the committee suggested taking money from a capital reserve fund. Stombaugh also recommended taking roughly $200,000 from the Rainy Day Fund so the town could move forward with plans to fix the electric issues in the Green Meadows area.
    The use of the these two funds and the expected increase in transfer taxes, led the committee to believe they had a balanced budget with no tax increase.
    Making changes
    With a deficit to address, the Finance Committee went to work Wednesday night trying to find ways to address the hole but to continue with the plan of no tax increase. To deal with the $283,000 deficit, the committee decided to defer two of the three old utility projects originally planned for 2013 and a piece of heavy equipment.
    Electric projects on Commerce Street and Greens Branch, totaling roughly $190,000, are deferred to 2014. However, the electric project north of Duck Creek will go forward as planned. Stulir said the committee wants to pay for the $100,000 project with impact fees instead of putting it in the operating budget.
    "I suggested the capital budget and using impact fee money, which is for the purpose of growth," Stulir said. "And going north of Duck Creek for electric is definitely growth related."
    The committee had also planned on ordering heavy equipment, but decided to defer one of the heavy trucks – a high ranger – for 2014. The town will still order two trucks and a backhoe. Stulir said the high ranger would've cost roughly $200,000, so the town will now spend about $320,000 on heavy equipment.
    The changes all together result in deferring $190,000 worth of projects and a $200,000 truck to 2014.
    The changes, Stulir said, enables the committee to only take roughly $320,000 from the general fund reserves and $160,000 from the Rainy Day Fund. With the changes, the committee is still looking at a proposed budget with no property tax increase for the residents of Smyrna.
    Page 2 of 2 - Use of funds from the Rainy Day Fund would need to approved by council, prior to the approval of the 2013 budget.
    What's next?
    The Finance Committee will present the proposed 2013 budget to Smyrna Town Council in a special council meeting Monday, Oct. 29 at 6:30 p.m.
    "The point is to present the budget to council and make them aware of what we're doing and get their input," Stombaugh said.
    Stombaugh said the committee will then address any suggestions made by council regarding the budget. While Stombaugh left last week's meeting happy with the then-proposed budget, she wasn't quite as happy after the changes that were made Wednesday night.
    "Today in the economy, there's only so much you can do," she said.
    But her goal is still to not have a tax increase for the residents, especially considering the possibility of residents facing increases elsewhere.
    "If we can balance the budget without an increase, we owe it to the citizens to do that."
    Email Jennifer Dailey at jennifer.dailey@doverpost.com.
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