|By Lindsey Erdody, Herald-Times, Bloomington, Ind.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Following a new procedure this year after receiving the compiled 2015 city budget later than usual, the council decided to submit all questions in writing to the administration following the four days of hearings. The administration had until
Council members were curious about specific line-item expenses where there were noticeable increases or decreases such as the 14,000 percent increase in postage in the controller's office; they asked for updates on ongoing projects such as the
Some of the topics raised in questions were missing from the budget hearings, such as the number of full-time equivalents, or full-time employees, in each department; information on parking meter revenue and where those funds are going; the status of a website redesign; and the proposed deer cull at
Several errors also were noted in responses. For example, in the parking facilities budget, there is
The council also showed concerns about departments being stretched thin either due to a small staff or lack of updated equipment, asking whether the city needed to add staff members or vehicles. Department heads cautiously agreed the extra help would be appreciated, but then specified the cost of doing so.
It's unknown whether more budget hearings will be scheduled in addition to the
"At this point, I don't know where the process is going," council member
He said nothing really stood out in the answers, and it was close to what he anticipated. "I'm pretty comfortable with the response I got," Mayer said.
One thing that was explained more clearly is that the 2015 budget surplus of
Due to a property tax appeal from 2007 being granted, the city will incur a
"For that reason, any additional spending should be avoided," the administration wrote in response to council member
Also, in answers to questions on Mayor
While the city won't say that "cuts" were made in requests, the administration admits that all requests can't be met when budget requests routinely outpace revenues by seven figures.
Some of the questions
A: "All postage costs have been transferred from Public Works to the Controller's office."
A: Since uReport began in 2012, there have been 2,300 complaints. It's actually 920 complaints per year. A compliance officer was recently added, but more staff could always be used. On average, the addition of an enforcement staff member costs
A: The fund was created in 1982 "to be used for expenses of a promotional nature" related to economic development. Some examples of previous funding include an annual agreement with
A: Today's senior population is the biggest part of our population and grows every day. We've seen a shift in their interests for a "senior center," and many don't like being viewed in this context because they are much more active.
A: The department has received various equipment from 2000-09, but some of it is no longer used such as ballistic vests and plate carriers, which have a limited shelf life and have long since expired. Other ballistic plates, one ballistic shield, rifle sights, thermal imaging and night vision equipment and two tool boxes are still owned. There are also 31 rifles, with six of those being nonfiring for
A: More funds will always be helpful. The vehicle replacement fund isn't likely to keep pace with the preferred turnover in vehicles.
A: We actually have a Book Buddy program that allows school kids to read to the animals. It helps kids with reading skills and gives the animals more human contact.
Q: from Granger: Why are administrative salaries going up 4 percent?
A: The line shows a 3.77 percent increase. We've budgeted a 2 percent raise for 2015. The primary reason the increase is 3.77 percent is because a financial management position was filled this year at a salary
Q from Volan: What did
A: We have budgeted
Planning and Transportation
A: Some duties will change, but not drastically. Two employees from the engineering division have been moved to other divisions, including the engineering technician who went to the planning services division and the public improvements manager who went to the development services division. For employees remaining in the engineering division, "their jobs stay largely the same in terms of overseeing the construction of transportation projects of all types."
Health insurance premiums
A: The city has historically absorbed the increase or paid a larger share of health insurance premium increases than passed along to employees. Also, a 2 percent salary increase, for example, on
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