In preparing the 2010-2011 city budget, officials say careful planning was needed to prioritize the city's needs, and address the services provided to residents.
City Council has approved a budget that has stripped redundancy, eliminated services "we can do without", while preventing layoffs within its departments, according to city officials.
The Edinburg City Council has approved an operating budget for the fiscal year 2010-2011 at its regular meeting on Sept. 21.
This year's budget marks the sixteenth straight year of no increases in property tax rates, which will remain at 63.5 cents per $100 assessed valuation. The combined $76.7 million budget includes no reduction in services despite an estimated two-million dollar loss of revenue.
Key to the 2011 budget was looking at the General Fund for operational purposes, rather than funding long term improvements, according to city manager Ramiro Garza. By state law, a balanced budget must be in place by Oct. 1.
"Every area we could, in a cost sense, we found ways not to make purchases this year that were not as essential as they could be," Garza said. "We prioritize all the needs, and basically we don't look at things as cuts, but rather what the needs of the departments. We came up and found different ways not to have purchasing. We found some cost saving measures."
The City is also coordinating with the North American Development Bank to fund grants for its expansion of the wastewater treatment facility, according to Garza.
Councilmember Gene Espinoza previously called the budget the "skinniest I have ever seen", and echoed Garza's comments regarding creative financing for projects prioritized by city leaders.
"If you look at it, in the past we were able to buy more equipment, and this year instead of buying new, maybe we're refurbishing it. Maybe, an overhaul instead of buying new. You know what, we are going to learn a lot of things through this," Espinosa said. "We are in a recession, and you just learn how to do things. We things were hustle and bustle, and busy and a lot of money coming in, we didn't have time to look under the rocks. We have plenty of time now, because we have to."
The proposed budget includes:
A three percent cost of living increase for employees; increased funding for the Police Department to purchase a phone and network system upgrade and a disaster recovery system; increased funding for the Fire Department to purchase bunker gear and fire truck response warning signs;
As well as increased funding for improvements to the Chapin/Sugar Road Holding Pond and improvements to the Jackson Road Drainage Crossing; increased funding for the Solid Waste Management Department for the construction of an automatic truck wash facility; solar lighting; and office equipment;
There will be no increase in residential trash collection fees or water rates, according to the City.