City council OKs 2009 budgetThe coming new year and new budget for Woodbury will be one of attempting to do more with slightly less.
By: Hank Long, Woodbury Bulletin
The coming new year and new budget for Woodbury will be one of attempting to do more with slightly less.
The Woodbury City Council voted Dec. 10 to approve a budget that will see expenditures decrease by 2.1 percent from 2008.
But what does the now adopted $60.4 million total budget and the $26.7 property tax levy mean for residents? About an 0.9-percent increase in 2009 city property taxes for the average valued home ($302,700). City officials said many homes will see no change or even a slight decline in their city portion of their property taxes.
Getting to that point during a declining economy wasn’t easy for city financial staff and council members, who, in October made the decision to trim the city’s preliminary budget by more than $750,000, which helped make up for recent shortfalls in municipal revenue streams, like a decline to the city’s interest income, property permits and other fees associated with residential and commercial development. It also brought the expected $47 increase in 2009 property taxes for the average valued home down to an $8 increase.
“This city budget has certainly been one of the hardest in my career,” said city administrator Clint Gridley, who has been with Woodbury since 2004. “We’ve had to make a number of compromises.”
Included in the cuts from the preliminary budget that was approved in September, are a $200,000 public works request for an increase for street maintenance, almost $100,000 reduction in fuel costs and a reduction in the Woodbury Public Safety Department’s request of four new police officers to two.
The city will see a net decrease of five full-time positions in its workforce in 2009, something that the growing city hasn’t seen in some time, Gridley said.
“These are interesting times, and it certainly has required us to be creative and very frugal about how we expend our resources,” Gridley said. “And as council knows, we as an organization are expending significant effort through organizational studies to examine important and critical services and how we can most effectively service our customers. “
Mayor Bill Hargis said he expects the city to face a similar budget process in the next few years as the economy continues to struggle.
“The tight economy has our attention and we will continue to be good financial stewards,” Hargis said. “The city has been well managed, financially, and it has been that way well before I became involved.”
Hargis said the initial $1.5 million in cuts and the additional $750,000 made in October were done in a “thoughtful and deliberative way without compromising the outcomes we seek.”
Responding any suggestions that the city didn’t cut enough from its budget to reflect the struggling economy, Hargis said the city recognizes the importance of a good workforce.
“Human capital is an important asset, and if you start indiscriminately decreasing your staff, you’re good people are going to start looking over their shoulder and go someplace else,” Hargis said.
Woodbury’s 2009 budget facts and figures
• Total budget - $60.4 million
• $2.3 million decrease in expenditure from 2008
• Property tax levy - $26.7 million
• 0.9-percent increase (or $8) for city property taxes for average valued home ($302,700)
• A net decrease in city staff equivalent of five full-time positions