Can't be at the budget work session? Watch it on the city's website here.
The College Park Mayor and Council will soon begin mulling a $14.5 million budget for next year, but with a $97,000 surplus, a deep reserve and no proposed increase for property tax rates, the negotiations could be less contentious than those just completed by the Maryland General Assembly.
Even if the steep cuts currently in the state budget aren't reversed during a special session, the impact shouldn't trickle to College Park, City Manager Joe Nagro said.
“Our budget isn’t that dependent upon the state,” Nagro said. Property taxes from city residents and fines and fees make up 66 percent of the budget alone, he noted.
The city's predicted expenditure for fiscal year 2013 is a 2.76 percent increase over 2012, while revenues include no proposed increase to the property tax rate, fees, fines or charges, according to the budget summary.
Council will have the opportunity to make amendments to the budget, beginning at a worksession this Saturday, but Nagro does not expect the tax rate, fees or fines to be impacted.
“[Adjustments] would be in where they want to move the money. … If they want to add money to something,” he said.
Among the possible adjustments, council could divvy funds from a $97,289 budget surplus for various projects. The surplus can be assigned to Capital Improvement Program projects, items on a council crafted “wish list,” or other purposes, Nagro said.
Unused money from the surplus would fall into the unassigned reserve, the city’s “savings account,” as Nagro calls it. The $5.6 million reserve currently represents 38.8 percent of the requested 2013 budget.
“If we didn’t collect a nickel for three months…you can still pay your debts and pay your people and keep the city operating,” he said.
The city charter suggests that this unassigned fund equal 25 percent of the fiscal year operating budget, Nagro said. The surplus could move closer to the recommended percentage in coming weeks, when the city council considers a fiscal year 2012 budget amendment to use unassigned funds for a new public works department building.
The structure would require $1 million from the reserve, according to the budget summary. This expenditure and the could bring the reserve down to 29 percent of the 2013 operating budget, Nagro said.
The worksession will begin at 7:30 a.m. in the council chamber of , and continue Saturday, April 21 at the same time. The public hearing on the operating and capital budget is scheduled for Tuesday, May 8. The Mayor and Council are scheduled to adopt the FY2013 budget ordinance on Tuesday, May 22. The complete requested budget accompanies this post.