The Cottonwood City Council has adopted its final budget for fiscal year 2015 Tuesday. Two public comments, including one from former Verde Valley Property Owners Association President Margaret Paddock, focused on water rates. They were advised that water rate increases were not a part of the budget, but that a future work session -- possibly next Tuesday -- would address those matters.
This year's total spending plan is $86.6 million, including all estimated reserves, potential grants and financing options. Compared to last year's revised budget of $57,895,580, the overall increase is $28.7 million.
The largest planned single increase includes the refinancing of the 2004 Bank of New York Water Bond, which the city has been trying to complete for a couple of years.
The General Fund's overall budget is $22.2 million, a $4,244,490 increase over the previous fiscal year. There were four additional staff members approved by the Council for the FY 2015 and one job reclassification.
The reconstruction of 12th Street and the Mingus Avenue Willard to Main Street projects are a major portion of the Special Revenue Funds increases. Funding for these projects will be from reserves and a $6.8 million financing mechanism. The 12th Street project, finally underway, is expected to cost approximately $3,329,700 with the remainder of financing to be reimbursed to the Capital Improvements Fund to replenish that fund.
The City budgeted $11,745,775 in Capital Projects including a transfer to the Sewer Fund of $7,879,975 for construction of a water reclamation project at Riverfront Park, expected to be the first of Cottonwood's future satellite plants.
The Capital Projects Fund also includes the construction and rehab of the bathrooms at the local parks, the Highland Square Senior Apartments and heating and cooling for the Civic Center. Still another project is the construction of the Emergency Communication Center for approximately $3.7 million.
The Capital Projects Fund still has reserves being held for future Capital Project needs. The Enterprise Fund budget, which consists of water and wastewater, have nearly doubled last fiscal year's revised amount of $16.9 million to $32.6 million for FY 2015. The $15,697,100 increase can, in part, be attributed to the Riverfront Wastewater Reclamation Plant, which is expected to begin construction in FY 2015, as well as the refunding of the 2004 Water Bonds.
In notes to the council, the finance department reported that "preparation of the budget continues to be a challenge. The last five years have been especially difficult with a continuous decline in some of our largest revenue sources. Some issues are out of local control, including rising health insurance premiums, large retirement contribution increases, utility costs, and common expenditures in general. Some external forces are also placing demands on our staffing and capital equipment requirements. These issues along with the City's dedication to the citizens' insistence on quality services are one of its highest priorities causing an increased challenge to balancing this budget.
"On a more encouraging note, it has become apparent that our sales tax figures have started to improve. The local economy as a whole is showing signs of improvement."
The council presented certificates to key members of the finance department. Kirsten Lennon received a certificate of achievement for excellence in financial reporting. It's the 14th year that award has been presented.
Cottonwood's Manager of Administrative Services, Rudy Rodriguez, was presented with the award of financial report achievement for the 22nd year in succession.