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December 17, 2013

City Council approves budget for 2014

DUNCAN — The Duncan City Council approved its 2014 Budget of $60,308,012 during a special meeting and budget hearing Monday. The budget includes $29,487,965 allocated to the Duncan Public Utilities Authority and $1,725,183 allocated to the Duncan Economic Development Authority.

The budget process began in August, when city department heads were tapped to provide needs and expenditures for the coming year. But it wasn’t until Nov. 26 the first version of the budget was presented to the City Council. A week later, the first public hearing on the budget was conducted.

“It’s much more transparent than it has been,” City Manager Jim Frieda said about the 2014 Budget. “The number have been there. We tried to address the items people might have questions about.”

The budget, which goes into effect at the beginning of 2014, is set to address more than just department expenditures and capital improvement items. Frieda, reading the budget memorandum, said the budget also addresses:

n The deteriorating condition of the city streets,

n Need for new vehicles and equipment in many departments,

n Need for new safety equipment in the Duncan Fire and Police departments,

n Need to maintain a well-trained and dedicated work force and a financial commitment to do so,

n Need to make the community viable and attractive for future economic growth,

n Need to reduce the city annual debt service, and

n Employee retirement fund and reducing unfunded liability.

Of the items, Frieda said the city streets are among the biggest concerns for the city and Duncan residents. He said the need to address the streets is critical.

On the 2014 Budget, $1.5 million is earmarked for street maintenance, construction and striping. He said the budgeted focus on the streets is an attempt to offset the failure of a bond issue, which would have provided $8,500,000 for street repairs and construction.

Among the increases to this year’s budget is an employee wage increase of $481,046 for 237 full-time and five part-time employees. Frieda said 19 positions remain unfilled, but they are budgeted. Because the positions remain vacant, the city is saving $1,068,139.

Other items addressed by Frieda on the budget included:

n Unfunded liability for employee retirement, which is at $19,136,689.

n The decrease in debt, which went from $60,126,584 on Dec. 31, 2010, and is now at $51,175,157.

n The purchase of vehicles and equipment for various departments. Frieda said not all departments needs could be addressed for some of these items because vehicles and equipment are purchased through a dedicated 1 cent capital improvement fund.

Several items will be carrying over from the 2013 Budget.

In fact, $90,000 is carrying over from 2013, and will be combined with $90,000 to address the splash park project in Douglass Park. The splash pad will replace the Douglass Pool, which the city closed because of declining use and cost of maintenance.

“Therefore, $180,000 has been budgeted to fulfill a promise we made to the community,” Frieda said.

The Abe Raizen Park parking lot completion project is also carrying over from the 2013 budget. In all, $150,000 has been allocated for this project.

Council members said this year’s budget is among the best they’ve dealt with and recognized City Financial Director Patti Clift for making the budget easier to read.

“We went through it basically line by line,” Councilman Ricky Mayes said. “This is one of the easiest budgets to understand. It’s one of the best budgets we’ve seen in a long time.”

Councilman Tommy Edwards said he appreciated being able to tell where all the money was going. Vice Mayor Ritchie Dennington said the budget addresses everything he thought the city needed to focus on in 2014.

Mayes made a motion to approve a resolution regarding the budget, and Edwards seconded the motion. All council members approved the resolution.

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