Easton City Council Passes 2012 Budget
Next year's city budget keeps taxes and fees in Easton at the same rates as 2011.
Easton City Council members unanimously passed the 2012 city budget Wednesday evening. The $28.8 million document calls for the same tax and fee structure as in 2011.
Though the bottom line is essentially the same, a few notable line items include:
- The director of the city's Weed and Seed program taken on as a city employee, with plans to expand the program to Southside in 2012
- $207,000 to GEDP in support of the Easton Main Street and Ambassadors programs, which represents the amount the organization planned to raise with the now-rejected NID proposal
- the addition of a full-time IT technician beginning in July to upgrade city systems with software upgrades, also in the 2012 budget
- a part-time human resources employee who will oversee benefits, with the goal of minimizing city costs
- the expansion of the city grants administrator to a full-time position, from part-time
- More than $300,000 in capital purchases, including three new police vehicles, a lease payment on a new pumper truck for the fire department, highway supplies, and a truck for the public works department
Additionally Wednesday evening, the council passed a resolution directing the management of the city's fund balance.
The resolution is desirable to municipal lenders, said city administrator Glenn Steckman and finance director Chris Hegele.
Council members debated the resolution at their workshop meeting previously on Tuesday, ultimately making minor changes to the proposed ordinance, most notably substituting “should” for “shall” in places. Vice Mayor El Warner said she felt the change would allow flexibility should the city find itself in a position where it could not meet the goals set in the resolution.
The resolution calls for the general fund balance to be 10 to 15 percent of the general fund revenues. Exceptions are allowed with council approval in extenuating circumstances, such as a natural disaster, and the fund will be allowed to swell in years when collective bargaining agreements may be negotiated.
Additionally, the resolution stipulates the city's health care fund maintain a $3 million and the liability fund hold $1.5 million.
“I think this policy provides a good fund management policy for the city,” Steckman said Tuesday evening. “The ratings agencies, because of the financial meltdown, have been looking at things with a super fine microscope.”
“We've grown our fund balances this year,” said Mayor Sal Panto. “There aren't many municipalities that could pass an ordinance like that this year.”