Fund balance, city salaries, grow

City Manager Jerry Moss annouced at Wednesday’s FAIR Committee meeting that he anticipated the city’s unrestricted fund balance growing to $443,110.

Unrestricted funds are monies that the city may spend for any purpose. Some funds currently in the city’s fund balance, such as drug seizure money or Powell Bill funds, may only legally be applied for specific purposes.

Moss told members that he will have a fund balance policy ready in the near future. He did inform the committee and other council members who were present that, in his opinion, the state-mandated 8% fund balance is too low, being roughly equivalent to one month’s income.

The manager told the committee he plans to increase the fund balance by 3-5% until it reaches a certain level.

“This is remarkable,” FAIR Committee Chair Lynn Harper stated regarding the fund balance number.

When asked by council member Elissa Yount if the numbers last year were “too rosy,” Moss replied that some projections “missed the boat by a mile”.

Immediately following the discussion of the fund balance, Moss announced that he wanted to give all city employees a cost-of-living-adjustment of 3%. He told members that it has been 24 months since the last pay raise.

Moss indicated that the increase will cost $239,000 in next year’s budget.

The city manager told members that the fund balance had taken the increase in pay into consideration. According to Moss, the real effect on the balance will be $11,811, since money was already budgeted for merit pay that was never awarded.

Yount asked Moss if he had completed enough of the budget to know whether or not the pay raise was possible for next year. Moss replied that “we’ve said to put employees first and that’s what we’ve done”. He said that he would cut what he needs to cut to make the pay raise work.

“Without a tax raise,” Harper stated.

“You heard what she said,” FAIR Committee member Bobby Gupton asked Moss.

“I don’t see so good but I hear just fine,” Moss quipped.

Harper told the committee that the raise would be a big benefit for the employees. He said that it indicates that the manager is supporting all employees despite the car policy.

The new vehicle policy curtails city employees taking city vehicles to and from their homes. It is scheduled to begin on May 1.

Yount commented that all employees are assured a 3% raise.

Daeke stated that he appreciated the manager moving the raise up by six weeks. The merit pay increase originally budgeted by former City Manager Eric Williams was scheduled to begin on the last pay period of fiscal 2005.

Gupton indicated that he was pleased that it included all employees.