The Homer City Manager has prepared two budget options for the city council to consider. The budget ultimately adopted by the city largely depends on whether Homer can bring in an additional $1 million in revenue for Fiscal Year 2016.
The two budget options the Homer City Council will consider both include cuts to city services and personnel. The council will have to choose between Budget A and Budget B. Homer City Manager Katie Koester calls Budget A the “Assumes Revenue Budget.” She says this option depends on about $1,000,000 in new revenue sources to provide city services on a level similar to that funded in the 2015 budget.
“That doesn’t mean budget A doesn’t contain a lot of cuts. It actually contains $725,000 in cuts from the adopted 2015 budget. We went down every single line item with department heads,” says Koester.
Budget A would mean personnel cuts to Planning and Zoning, City Administration, Finance, the Police Department, and to Public Works. But, it does mean there will be money to fund the city’s reserve accounts.
“About $600,000 into reserves which is something we haven’t funded in three years,” says Koester.
Some of that money will be used to bring negative reserve accounts current and will leave a real amount of around $485,500 to distribute into reserves. Koester calls the second option, Budget B, the “Bare Bones Budget.” This option assumes no new revenue for the city and calls for $467,600 in cuts to city departments in addition to the cuts laid out in Budget A. A few results from adopting this budget would be more cuts to personnel in Public Works, the Police Department, the Fire Department, the Library, the City Clerk’s Office, and to Parks and Recreation. Area non-profits would suffer from a 70% cut to the Homer Foundation. The Homer Chamber of Commerce would see the same 70% cut in funding and so would the Pratt Museum. And the city would close the HERC building.
“So Budget B keeps me up at night and I really hope that Budget B is not what we’re stuck with because it takes a lot to get to approximately $1,000,000 in cuts when you combine the cuts already that were made in Budget A with the cuts in Budget B,” says Koester.
The two budget options will go before city council during its regular meeting on Monday, October 12th. The city council will also discuss whether to hold a special election for city voters to decide on two potential ways to raise new revenue. The first option is to temporarily stop dedicating sales tax revenue to the Homer Accelerated Roads and Trails Fund for no more than three years. This option would give the city a little less than $1,000,000 in additional revenue. The second option is to implement a 1% increase in sales tax for six months out of the calendar year. This is projected to bring the city a little more than $1,000,000 in revenue. Both options would raise the money necessary for the city council to adopt Budget A. City Manager Katie Koester has tentatively scheduled a third town hall meeting for November 2nd to discuss the two budget options, the revenue options that will be considered by city council, and potential dates for a special election.
Click here to review the budget options and ordinances city council will consider during its October 12th meeting.