City commissioners presented with 2019 budget

Published 9:24 am Thursday, May 17, 2018

City officials were presented with the proposed 2019 fiscal year budget Tuesday evening, which allows for an across-the-board raise for employees but eliminates most out-of-state travel and other items.

The Winchester Board of Commissioners is scheduled to begin its annual budget discussions at 9 a.m. May 23 for the first of two full-day sessions; the other session will be May 30.

The budget, as presented by City Manager Matt Belcher, calls for $17.84 million in estimated revenue and $19.89 million in expenditures. It leaves a shortfall of slightly more than $2 million, but anticipates a carryover of $5.3 million from the current fiscal year to leave a surplus.

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In his memo to the commissioners, Belcher called the budget aggressive but said the city is in good financial health.

“That said, we must remain vigilant and conservative in the upcoming fiscal year and in the short term given the uncertainty that remains in the state pension system as personnel costs continue to be nearly 80 percent of the city’s budget,” Belcher wrote.

The proposed budget includes a 2 percent raise for all city employees, but does not include adding any new positions. It would also return a grant which would have partially funded three firefighter positions for three years, but the positions were never filled. The budget does not allow for any major capital projects.

Must of the shortfall, Belcher said, comes from transfers to outside agencies, economic development tax incentives and grant-related expenses. There is also a $320,000 increase in pension and retirement contributions.

Belcher said projected revenue will not keep up with expenses beginning with fiscal year 2020.

“I highly recommend the city consider a modest tax increase in payroll, property and insurance premiums in order to maintain critical services and the 12 percent pension increases that are mandated for the next nine years,” Belcher said. “If revenue adjustments are not made in the near term, the city will most assuredly have to cut services.”

The budget ordinance must be approved, following two readings, by the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email or call 859-759-0051.

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