Cost of most things rising, but Fairview general fund goes down by 12 percent
By Suzanne Dean
FAIRVIEW—Across the country, most costs, including the cost of government, are rising. But not in Fairview.
The general fund budget for FY 2019 (July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019) is $867,222. That’s nearly $122,000 less than the estimated final 2018 general fund budget, or a cut of 12 percent.
The general fund portion of the budget gets the most attention because it covers the costs of the main city office, the justice court, police, fire, garbage, parks, recreation and other government functions.
The general fund is the part of the budget financed by taxes, grants, business licenses, fines and charges for services.
However, those sources never quite cover government costs, so each year, the city transfers surplus funds from utilities to balance the general fund budget.
For FY 2018, the transfer was about $56,000, which was all taken out of the electrical utility. But for FY 2019, the projected transfer is just $20,322. Money for the transfer is slated to be taken fairly equally out of the electric, water and sewer funds.
“That’s the lowest I’ve seen, and I’ve been here 12 years,” Mayor Dave Taylor told the city council before it passed the budget at a meeting June 21.
Turning toward the council and with perhaps a dozen people in the audience, the mayor said, “I really commend these men and women. They’ve worked hard to make sure you get the best bang for the buck.”
Each of Fairview’s three utility funds—electricity, water and sewer—is essentially, a self-contained bank account. Each gets its revenue from charges to homes and businesses, and covers its costs from its revenue.
The FY 2019 budget for the three utilities combined is $1,627,908, up about $170,000 from the previous year. The combined budget for the three utilities is about 12 percent higher than the estimated final budget for FY 2018.
The utilities serve the incorporated city and some territory outside the city limits. One of the factors in the increase is population growth in and around Fairview.
When the general fund and utilities are combined, the total city budget for FY 2019 is close to $2.5 million. That amount is about $138,000 more than the final estimate for all city functions for FY 2018. The $138,000 translates to a modest increase of 5.8 percent.
Taylor said he was especially pleased to be able to cut the general fund budget and still give seven year-round city employees a raise.
The city council also raised its own stipends slightly and doubled the stipend for the mayor.