Edna Tightens Belt for New Budget
By John Meng, News Editor The City of Edna city council has approved its 2020-2021 budget and a $900,000 revenue shortfall this year will present unique challenges for city officials and staff. The 2020-2021 budget totals $6.063 million with the general and utility funds combined, which is compared to last year’s total of $6.948 million.
“We did a lot of administrative changes,” said Edna City Manager Gary Broz. “We’re trying to be more transparent. In the past, the salaries were scattered in various funds - general fund, utility fund and other funds. This year, the word ‘miscellaneous’ is not in the budget. Everything has been identified or has tried to be identified.”
According to Broz, the city’s general fund dropped from $3.638 million in last year’s budget to $2.498 million, primarily due to city officials streamlining the administrative process involving the solid waste contractor. Broz explained that previously the city was collecting the fees into the utility fund, then transferring funds to the general fund where they would write a check, and then move what was left back to the utility fund.
“No,” he said. “We moved $1.130 million for solid waste out of the general fund. There’s no reason for the general fund to be involved in that. You collect it in the utility fund, you pay it from the utility fund and what you have left stays in the utility fund.”
Other notable items listed in the general fund include $40,000 for resurfacing the city pool; and $17,000 for a four-year lease agreement on two new police cars and two city trucks. The new budget also includes a 2.3 percent cost of living raise for employees.
The 2020-2021 budget includes a five percent increase in water and waste water rates. Broz explained that the revenue from the five percent increase will be placed into a Fixed Asset Fund so the city can grow that fund and then use that money to pay bond debt and ultimately fix issues with city water, sewer and streets, the cost of which will probably be $75,000-$80,000 a year.
“In a couple of years, we can go out and get a grant for $3 or $4 million and be able to pay the bill. We’ll need to keep that fund growing every year,” said Broz.
When asked what conditions caused the revenue shortfall this year, Broz responded, “It’s the times. COVID is part of it. We’ve tightened our belt a lot. There is no fluff in here. We scrutinized the budge pretty hard. We need some personnel but it’s not in the budget right now. We need streets. We need drainage. We need water. We need sewer lines. We need it all. The Fixed Asset Fund will help us to have the funds we need to start some things. “It’s a no frills budget. But we’re going to try to get the job done, and we’re putting emphasis on getting our parks in shape; continue the ditch cleaning the best that we can, and we should have grant money soon.”