The budgeting process is once again underway in Homer. City Manger Katie Koester introduced a draft budget to the Homer City Council Monday night. The new budget includes a nearly two percent increase in operating costs compared to 2018. Employee healthcare and electricity costs make up most of that increase.
For the past few years, the city has diverted the Homer Accelerated Roads and Trails program, better known as the HART fund, to prevent to a $1.2 million budget gap. The fund is designated for road and trail construction.
The diversion is set to end this year, but last fall, voters did approve expanding the fund to cover road and trail maintenance, freeing up money for other city services. That move covered most of the city’s looming budget gap.
Koester says revenue from sales and property taxes increased over the past three years, shoring up the rest of the city’s budget.
The 2019 draft budget also includes roughly $600,000 in capital projects. Projects include upgrading the city’s wireless network and purchasing new vehicles for the police department.
The budget does not include a cost of living adjustment for city employees next year. However, employees will be paying more to cover insurance premiums.
The council is set to pick up its discussion on the budget during its next regular meeting on October 22.