The city of Greensburg’s proposed $23.5 million 2015 budget would hold the line on real estate taxes and defer capital expenses to keep costs down.
It was a tricky budget year, said City Councilman Randy Finfrock, director of accounts and finance.
The city is expecting some fiscal relief in the near future. It has been making large annual payments since refinancing much of its debt in 2011, but by 2016 these bonds will be mostly paid off, saving the city about $400,000 a year.
“If we can get through next year, it may be a long time before we have to have a property tax increase,” Finfrock said.
Until then the budget will remain tight, as it has for the past several years. Police pension costs of more than $1.2 million have cut into the available funds.
In order to keep the tax rate flat without canceling services, reductions had to be made elsewhere, Finfrock said.
Most of these savings will come by delaying planned construction projects and equipment purchases.
“We’re kicking a lot of capital expenditures down the road,” Finfrock said.
The city has a capital plan looking forward 10 years. Many of the projects slated for the short term, within the next one to three years, probably will not happen in 2015, according to city fiscal director Mary Perez.
The choices on which projects to delay will be made carefully, to keep from incurring even greater expenses down the road, Finfrock said.
It has yet to be determined which projects will be started next year and which will be delayed. The city has listed replacing police vehicles, repairing various sidewalks and improving its parks and arenas as among the many priorities for the next three years.
Contracted city employees will receive pay raises of 3 percent next year if the budget is approved.
The millage total will remain 25.05 mills. The city last raised the millage by 3.8 percent in 2009.
In addition, the council will vote on whether to raise parking fines. If approved, the fine for a first-time offender’s parking meter violation will go from $3 to $4, while those for second and subsequent violations would rise from $5 to $7. Fines not paid within the first 10 days will jump from $15 to $20.
All other parking fines would go from $15 to $20 if paid within 10 days, and from $20 to $25 if paid after that.
The city will vote whether to adopt the budget and the new parking fines at its Dec. 8 council meeting.
Jacob Tierney is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6646 or [email protected].