DeKALB – DeKalb aldermen signed off on the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, but they already are setting future goals for themselves.
By 2019, the city hopes to have the reserves of its general fund, water fund and airport at 25 percent of their annual expenditures.
For the general fund, this gives city officials a “rainy day” fund in case of emergencies. But rating agencies such as Moody’s Investors Service give municipalities favorable ratings for high fund balances. The better a government’s rating, the more cheaply it can borrow.
“I think it’s manageable,” said Assistant City Manager Rudy Espiritu. “Even Moody’s ratings agencies know we’re not going to make that kind of jump in one year. That’s why we’re slowly getting there, making our operations more efficient.”
With some last-minute tweaks, including an additional $50,000 for a new comprehensive plan and $25,000 for a city code enforcement vehicle, the DeKalb City Council gave the final nod to the fiscal 2014 budget.
The city is expected to spend $77.4 million between July 1 and June 30, 2014. Out of its general fund, which pays for the city’s day-to-day operations and salaries, city officials will spend $30.6 million in the upcoming fiscal year, 4.6 percent more than last year.
“We continue to move forward in trying to obtain the fund balance of 25 percent,” Espiritu said, adding that they are expecting to have a 19.58 percent general fund balance by June 30, 2014.
The city maintains two enterprise funds – the water fund and airport fund – which pay for capital projects and operations relating to the city’s water system and DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport.
Both funds will have a deficit for the upcoming fiscal year, but Espiritu pointed to the $1.2 million in construction that will be spent on upgrading the city’s water systems. When remaining funds for previous years are counted, the water fund has a 65 percent reserve balance.
The airport fund, however, sits at zero percent. Espiritu said the airport, which has often operated at a deficit, is still reliant on the city’s general fund.
“We continue to think of creative ways [for the airport] to become sustainable on its own,” said Espiritu, adding that the city has allocated $25,000 to study the possible regionalization of the airport.