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Balancing the budget

PRINCETON — The Princeton City Council is looking at a 2013-14 fiscal year budget which is balanced in all funds except the water and garbage funds.

At Monday’s meeting, the city council adopted an ordinance for the first reading of the tentative budget, placing the budget on file at city hall for review by the public. The budget will also be available for review on the city’s website.

On Tuesday, City Manager Jeff Clawson said the budget will take $63,000 from the garbage fund reserves to balance the garbage fund and $59,000 from the water fund reserves to balance that fund. Clawson said he does not anticipate either of those funds will require the use of reserves in future years.

Projected total revenue for the city for the 2013-14 fiscal year is $32,676,846, with total projected expenses at $32,798,846.

Clawson said there are no new major projects planned for the city in the new fiscal year. The city will do a small amount of street work and finish the water treatment plant. Also, the electric department will begin a project in April 2014 to replace its existing fuel tank. The electric department project will cross over into the next fiscal year with a total cost of $250,000.

There are two reasons for not starting any new major projects in the coming fiscal year, Clawson said. The first reason is to get a handle on all debt requirements, since the city has had about $30 million in new debt during the past two to three years, and the city is refinancing $10 million. The second reason is for planning purposes, to give the city time to plan future projects by identifying priorities, determining grant dollars available and looking at overall affordability of the project.

At this point, the city’s cash position is solid, Clawson said. The city is working to grow all cash reserves to industry standard numbers, he added.

Looking at the city’s electric department, Clawson said the department has $1 million in reserves, and it is growing. However, the electric department has an average monthly operational cost of about $750,000. So, the electric department’s $1 million is only a little over one month’s supply.

The city council is expected to take action on the 2013-14 budget in April, with the new fiscal year to begin May 1.

In other financial business at Monday’s council meeting, the council approved hiring the Bloomington-based Striegel-Knobloch & Co. LLC to complete the city’s annual audit for a cost not to exceed $24,500.

The fee is similar to what the city ultimately paid for the 2012 audit due to the demands of the unreconciled financials and the need to have a federal single audit done as well, Clawson said. The cost of the audit should go down for next year’s audit assuming no more significant changes need to be made.

“Once the 2013 audit is completed and final reconciled cash accounts have been established, we will be in good shape to move forward in a normal routine fashion,” Clawson said.

Also, the council approved a three-year mowing contract totaling $175,530 with Lucas Lawn Care to start this spring and end in the fall of 2015.

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