The city of Derby’s recommended budget for 2013 has actually reduced its dollar spending and held the mill levy level with 2012.
But, if a projected assessed valuation holds true until the tax bills go out in November, local residents on average will see just over a 1 percent increase on those bills. A mill of tax is $1 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, thus if the mill levy stays the same the tax bill still can go up if the assessed valuation increases.
City government has grown over the past few years, blessed with healthy increases through the construction of new homes and commercial properties. That growth peaked in 2009, when it was 10.3 percent and 52 homes had been built by June, according to City Manager Kathy Sexton.
This year the growth in assessed valuation was 0.9 percent. Only 26 building permits have been taken out for new homes this year, she said, compared to 33 by June 2011, she said.
“As you can see, 2012 is tracking to be less than last year,” she said.
On the bright side, commercial building permits are up this year. By June nearly $2.5 million in building permits had been issued. For the past three years those figures were: $1.5 million in 2011, $1.4 million in 2010 and $1.8 million in 2009.
In addition, the countywide sales tax has seen 2.5 percent growth in each of the past two years.
The city’s budget will include a 3 percent pay increase – a mix of a general pay adjustment and merit pay.
Sexton said the split of the mix will not be determined until the city finishes negotiations with the police union. A year ago the pay increase was the general adjustment only. If it is not mixed, those who have maxed out their pay range will not see any increase, she said.
Under its flexible plans for employees, the city has offered to allow some to work only 36 hours a week. They are still considered full time and can receive benefits, Sexton said.
However any savings from that plan may take a year to show up, as some employees have enough time off built up they are using that first. A decrease in projects in some departments, such as those impacted by reduced construction in the community, has allowed several to work less hours, Sexton said.
The budget reflects an increase of one employee in 2013 to 166 full-time and 23 part-time positions. Sexton said a city plan to cover some jobs with part-time employees worked in the fire department. However, it did not in the police department and the two part-time jobs will be converted into one position, she said.
Other savings noted in the budget include:
• Scrubbing some vehicle replacements, dropping the cost from $433,600 to $227,600.
• Eliminate the city’s match in a voluntary retirement program, saving $90,000.
• Pursuit of savings in the Employee Health Plan. The city is now self-insured and will still see an overall increase in costs, but just not at the rate of commercial providers.
• Increase park rental fees.
• Implement a new funeral escort fee.
Enhancements to the city budget include:
• Digital fingerprinting equipment, $30,000.
•High Park soccer and ball field improvements, $36,750 (city portion only).
•Hiring of a lobbyist for the city, $19,000.
Those who wish to make comments on the budget can do so at the July 24 and Aug. 14 council meetings or by contacting council members. The recommended budget can be found at www.derbyweb.com.
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