PERRY -- After two years without a purchasing agent position that was cut in the midst of the national recession, Perry may be hiring one for fiscal 2014.
That needs to be done so that we can speed up the purchasing process, make sure we have uniformity with the purchasing process and also have a person responsible for records management and for inventory, said Lee Gilmour, city manager.
Gilmour recommended the resurrection of the purchasing position this week in a budget he proposed to council that calls for no millage increase. The draft maintained the current budget, but Gilmour warned council members have challenges ahead.
Several issues such as additional firefighting staff and an animal control facility require an assessment by you outside of this document to determine a revenue source, Gilmour wrote in a memo to mayor and council highlighting the budget.
A series of meetings will be set up in the coming month for department directors to speak to council about budget concerns. A state-required public hearing will be held June 4. Council is set to vote on the budget June 18. The fiscal year begins July 1.
The drafted budget predicts $22.3 million in revenue and estimates $23.2 million in expenses. Transfers of about $1.9 million from enterprise funds will make up the shortfall as well as roll $1 million into fiscal 2015. The millage rate would remain at 14.3 mills.
City employees would receive a 2 percent pay raise and 1 percent merit raise, according to the memo.
Also in the highlights, Gilmour noted a 37 percent increase in the citys cost of its pension plan, a 2 percent increase in electricity costs and a meager quarter-of-a-percent increase in health care costs.
Gilmour said in a phone interview those uncontrollable, ever-increasing costs are the reason council must address the citys stagnant revenue stream.
They say were out of the recession, but we have not seen property values come back up to what they used to be, Gilmour said.
Property taxes are the citys main revenue source, like many other cities. Over the past few years, Perry officials have talked about implementing fees for services that dont produce revenue, such as public safety, as a more stable revenue source. But residents have pushed against the idea.
A fire fee has been the most discussed. In the past year, Gilmour has promoted it as a way to pay for firefighters needed for a second fire station under construction.
As it stands, the current staff will be split between the main location and the new location once it opens this year. Another six full-time firefighters are needed to fully staff the second location.
Insurance rate experts have recommended the city also hire an additional 15 firefighters to maintain its current ISO rating.
The property owners will directly see the impact of (not hiring more firefighters) ... on their property insurance, Gilmour said.
Also included in the drafted budget are:
A $4,500 raise for Community Development Director Mike Beecham for taking on responsibilities of the public works department, whose director was eliminated from the budget last year;
Funding for the police departments Citizens Academy, which has depended on donations and grants; and
An increase in supplemental pay for firefighters with EMT or paramedic certifications.
To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.