"Give me five minutes with a person's checkbook, and I will tell you where their heart is." - Billy Graham
The same holds true for organizations. If you want to know what is really going on, just follow the money.
The Apopka Budget Workshops give the taxpayers their best opportunity to learn not only what will likely happen in the City but also what is happening right now. Unfortunately only one, yes, one taxpayer showed up at yesterday's Budget Workshop. The public is not allowed to comment during council Workshops, but observing the wide-ranging discussions between the Council members and the City staff is the best way to learn what is happening in the City now and what will likely happen in the future.
Some of what was learned yesterday:
Early during the 4.5 hour meeting Commissioner Doug Bankson questioned Finance Director Pamela Barclay regarding the size of the City's Fund Balance relative to the total expenditures. The Budget Workshop Package indicated that the reserves would represent 31% of expenditures. This number is well above the standard recommended by the Government Financial Officers Association, which is 20%.
Bankson referenced to the recently received Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for Fiscal Year 2015 (CAFR). On page 15 it says, "As a measure of the General Fund’s liquidity, it may be useful to compare both unassigned fund balance and total fund balance to total fund expenditures. Unassigned fund balance represents approximately 24.3% of total General Fund expenditures of $36,976,307, while total fund balance represents 32.1% of that same amount."
The issue seems to be this: Does the 20% reserve standard apply to "Total Reserves" or to "Unrestricted Reserves?" Bankson expressed concern that if the standard was to be applied to unrestricted reserves, the City would fall below 20% if $2.6 Million was used to balance the 2017 Budget.
The original budgets from the City's department heads contained requests to hire 54 new employees. Only 18 new positions were "approved" and added to the budget. Mayor Joe Kilsheimer and City Administrator Glenn Irby both included additional staff in their budget requests. The mayor wanted to hire a Chief of Staff. Irby wanted a Deputy Chief Administrator.
Both explained that the number of requests each is receiving exceeds the time they have available. But both accepted the fact that the 2017 budget did not have room for these positions.
During the budgeting process last year it was learned that the City would need to build and equip two new fire stations in order to keep the Apopka Fire Department's ISO-1 rating. Several people questioned why current residents who lived close to existing fire stations should pay for new fire stations that would primarily benefit future residents. The Council agreed to examine the idea of imposing a Fire Impact Fee similar to what Orange County has.
During the conversation yesterday the Administration revealed that the study, which is required to establish the impact fee, has not yet started.
The next Budget Workshop is scheduled for today at 1:00 PM in the Council Chamber at Apopka City Hall. The proposed budgets for the Police and Fire Departments will be reviewed.
Use this link to view the Proposed Budget.
Use this link to view the 2015 CAFR.
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