Carbondale 2014 budget about $6.3 million |

Carbondale 2014 budget about $6.3 million

John Colson

CARBONDALE — Behind schedule for various reasons, the Board of Trustees here is cramming budget hearings into a relatively short period of time in order to meet state deadlines and have a municipal budget adopted by mid-December.

According to budget documents prepared for the trustees, the town is expecting a decrease in property tax revenues by roughly 17 percent, bringing in approximately $213,000 next year compared to more than $250,000 in 2013, as a fiscal hangover from the recession of 2008 to 2010.

In overall revenues, the town is hoping its income will drop by only an estimated 5 percent, coupled with an increase of sales and use tax proceeds and a new income line item, the anticipation of up $30,000-$40,000 from license fees for recreational/retail marijuana businesses, in the wake of passage of the town’s proposal to levy a 5 percent sales tax on retail sales of pot, and a 5 percent excise tax on wholesale pot moving from growers to the retail shops.

Town Manager Jay Harrington stressed that the retail marijuana license fee revenues are uncertain, largely because “right now, we don’t have any applications to convert,” referring to existing medical marijuana centers that plan to either add recreational retail sales to their existing medical business, or change over entirely from medical to recreational sales.

Harrington said two local medical marijuana outlets have applied to the state to modify their business licenses, an indication that they are likely to do the same with the town.

Overall income to the general fund, which essentially covers the day to day operations of the town, is expected to be $5.5 million, including fees and transfers from other funds to meet expenses.

On the expenditures side of the ledger, the town is planning a 3 percent wage increase for all employees in all departments, increased spending on the town’s insurance policies because “rates have increased significantly,” according to a memo from the finance department and Harrington, and particular funding provisions for a variety of town projects and programs, for a total of roughly $6.3 million in total general fund expenditures for 2014.

According to preliminary budget numbers, approximately $800,000 of the town’s $5.6 million in cash reserves will be spent to meet proposed general fund expenses, if approved by the town’s trustees.

The capital construction fund, which also is to be partially met by use of the town’s cash reserves, calls for spending of nearly $2 million on numerous projects, including $1.46 million on the ongoing Highway 133 widening and improvements, and $200,000 on crack sealing of streets around town. The remainder is to be spent on different kinds of equipment, vehicles, and a new wash bay at the town’s public works garage.

The trustees have met regularly in recent weeks to work on the budget, including a work session on Nov. 5, when they went through the proposed departmental budgets for the town police, the recreation department, public works and capital purchases.

Harrington said the trustees will keep working toward the Dec. 10 adoption of a budget for the coming year, and that meetings are scheduled on Nov. 19 for the annual community requests for support for various organizations, and Nov. 26 for a follow-up discussion and final revisions.

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