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City approves draft 2019 budget

The Winchester Board of Commissioners approved its draft fiscal year 2019 budget late Wednesday afternoon with a handful of a last minute changes.

The city’s draft survived two days of budget meetings and discussions largely intact, though there were several changes approved. The commission voted to eliminate the city hall custodian position and contract the service with a company, which will be subject to the bid process.

The original draft budget proposed $17.84 million in revenue and $19.89 million in expenses, with the difference covered by an estimated $5.3 million carryover from the current fiscal year, which would leave the city with a surplus.

The commissioners approved a 2 percent cost-of-living increase for all city employees, including the commissioners. The biggest impact came from increased retirement and pension payments from the city, to the tune of about $320,000.

Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner said the retirement payments will increase 12 percent annually each of the next five or six years. The city was originally looking at a $1.1 million increase in fiscal year 2019, but the state legislature approved a phase-in plan, which reduced the payments.

Burtner said the city’s capital budget was 44 percent lower, from $2.52 million to $1.56 million, through cuts. All non-necessary out-of-state employee travel was cut as well.

Winchester City Manager Matt Belcher said the first reading of the formal budget could be at the June 5 commission meeting. The city must approve two readings of the budget by the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

In the final changes Wednesday afternoon, the commissioners voted to:

— add $7,500 for an engineering study on the bridge on Fulton Road.

— use $14,000 in area development district funds to repave the basketball counts at Harmon Field.

— zero the line item for the Winchester Tree Board.

— increase the Winchester Heritage Council funds from $12,000 to $15,000.

— increase funding to the Bluegrass Heritage museum from $40,000 to $48,000.

— increase funding for the Winchester Council for the Arts from $25,000 to $30,000.

— add $18,000 for engineering work for a canopy for the farmers market.

No cuts were recommended at the end of Wednesday’s session. Belcher said the difference would be covered by the carryover from the current budget.

Earlier in the day, the commissioners heard presentations from a number of agencies including the Winchester Police Department, Public Works and Winchester-Clark County Parks and Recreation.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0051.

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