Danville budget doesn’t plan for any tax increases

Published 6:12 pm Thursday, May 30, 2019

Danville’s city manager says the great news is the city has a balanced budget “without a requirement of the city commission to raise taxes” in order to continue services. Ron Scott gave the budget highlights in the final proposal to the city commission Tuesday night, minus Mayor Mike Perros who was out of town.

The budget is due to have its first reading later in June, but depending on what happens with the Danville-Boyle County Parks and Recreation funding agreement, there could be an amendment needed.

Scott said he will be recommending the city hire two new clerks for its finance department in order to review payments collected “in an effort to make sure we’re doing the best we can with our current tax structure before considering any possibility of further modifying those taxes.”

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The proposed budget comes in at $67,409,108, with appropriations worth $50,897,616, leaving a reserve of $16,511,492.

“To use the words of a city commissioner, who will remain unnamed, we’ve got a pretty good deal here in Danville for the value paid,” Scott said. “And we do have a high quality of life …”

After highlighting the list of services the city provides, Scott said he plans to recommend hiring one additional police officer to work in the schools, an additional dispatcher for the 911 center and a full-time janitorial person.

He said due to the emergency medical dispatch services added to 911, the workload has increased, requiring another telecommunicator. And the city has used a part-time person for janitorial work for years. Scott said now given “the scope of buildings to be kept clean,” including the parking garage, city hall and the new water treatment facility, the need is full-time.

He said the two finance clerks he will recommend about halfway through the fiscal year will review “all the original water collection payments, do a better job of reviewing payment and making sure we’re collecting all of our municipal insurance premium taxes and other revenues.”

In the next fiscal year, the city plans to make significant additional capital construction improvements to the water storage tanks in Perryville, and water distribution systems at Corporate Drive and Perryville Road, all totalling $4.8 million.

It will also begin upgrading its sewer plant, at an anticipated cost of $1.5 million for the upcoming budget year, out of an estimated $4.5 million in total renovation cost. And it will improve collection lines and pumps at a cost of $975,000, and review “other sewer service adequacy and infrastructure needs,” Scott said.

The sum of capital improvements is $18.2 million, which Scott said is a “significant investment in the community.” He said it’s “indicative that Danville is unlike other communities at 16,000 or 17,000” in population, because it has a “regional draw and is a provider of services well beyond the boundaries of our city. We have costs associated, of course, and based on who pays what … All those water and sewer costs, we’ve had independent studies done so we can balance the revenue with the equity of who pays what.”

And, Scott said over the next year, another study will be done.

“It’s hard to believe after the construction of the water treatment plant so recently, but it’s time again to look at the equity of water customers, from commercial to residential, to make sure we are appropriate in those charges.”

Scott said the fact the budget is balanced with no service interruptions or a necessity to raise taxes is an accomplishment. “It results from the commission’s prioritization of efforts,” he said, balancing “what could be and what should be done.”

Scott also noted the work CFO Michele Gosser did on the budget. The budget process started in December of ‘18, with a staff retreat to discuss priorities and goals, then moved into working meetings and funding requests before a budget draft was completed in April.

The budget in its entirety, as well as explanatory remarks, is now posted on the City of Danville’s website for anyone to view, Scott added. “I would say I think we put out in greater detail our budget than virtually any government I’m aware of … Anyone can review it and ask questions.”

New condition for funding agreements

Scott said the document the city uses for its non-departmental funding agreements is up to 8 years old and was in need of some tweaking. It sets forth the requirements and obligations of any agency that receives funds from the city.

Scott told the city commission, “Sometimes when boards change, people have a different understanding of what may be required.”

He said for years, the city has had discussions about what it required and why, “but it’s been explicitly clear of what is expected of any agency who receives $25,000 or more,”

The only change, he said, is that now the city requires agencies receiving $25,000 or more to transmit “to the city their Quickbooks journal, receipts and expenses, so that we have this conversation on an ongoing basis, rather than quarterly, once or twice a year.”

Agencies will now be required to transmit their financial records to the city every month. “And if we’ve got a question, we raise it. And it’s a condition of receiving city funding,” Scott said.

The agreement states that any agency’s failure to transmit the monthly records will result in the city withholding all future payments until the transmission is made.

“And it’s simply good communication. And it’s consistent with the open records requirement of anyone receiving $25,000 or more — all records are open,” Scott said.

“I would add that it’s essential oversight to maintain the integrity of public finance dollars,” City Attorney Stephen Dexter said. “If you accept public money, there comes a heightened responsibility to secure that it is used for the public good.”

Dexter said that means there are more disclosure rules. “And it’s done not to be ‘big brother,’ but to ensure dollars are spent in a way that is defensible and within the public purpose laws that go along with the expenditure of public funds. Which these are — tax dollars.”

City Commissioner Denise Terry said she has had some discussions with Scott about agency funding. “… about looking at policies for non-profit agencies, looking ahead into next year, looking at the policies — possibly changing those in the future.”

“I’m good with that,” Commissioner Rick Serres said. He said he thought that went along with the comment from resident Wilma Brown during the last meeting, who said she felt the 2% COLA raises given across the board do nothing but create further disparity between the highest and lowest earners.

“But we’re going to go into a study, so next year may look a little different. We may do raises based on the position you have, instead of just across the board,” Serres said. “So, looking into the next budget, we’ll take a look at some different things. I feel so, anyway.”


The City of Danville’s 2019-2020 is posted, with remarks, on the city’s website at danvilleky.org.