The 2015 Annual Appropriations (view document online) were presented this evening at a Special Council Meeting. This is equivalent to the budget for the City for the entire year.
The administration has proposed a budget of roughly $17.5 million dollars. Last year, the City spent $21.7 million. According to the finance director, about $1 million in 2014 were expenses carried over from unpaid bills in 2013, which would mean we spent only $20.7 million on 2014. Still, that means the administration has proposed a $3.2 million budget cut for this year.
Maple Heights 2014 Budget in Review
Maple Heights had $1.8 in negative fund balances at the beginning of 2014. By the end of the year, that number ballooned to $2.8 million. The City spent roughly $1 million more than it received in revenue. And all this occurred while trying to presumably address the questions raised by the State Auditor’s office.
However, looking back at the 2014 budgeting process, the finance director presented a budget that supposedly had reduced our expenses so that we would not overspend our revenues. In fact, Maple Heights was originally projected to have a savings of $700,000 by the end of 2014. That budget turned out to be a complete farce as we spent past our revenues by $1 million (even though the City earned $1.1 million from the short-lived traffic cameras).
This activity is what led to the declaration of Fiscal Emergency by the Auditor of State last month. The Auditor’s analysis showed that Maple Heights’ finances were on the verge of collapse, spending money we do not have.
Working on the 2015 Budget
We are now in the budgeting season for the current year. This new budget presented by the Mayor, through his finance director, will be the starting point for how the money will be spent in 2015.
In 2014, the estimated budget was grossly incorrect and did nothing to help the situation of the City. Hopefully, this year’s budget will present honest, useful numbers. It is the duty of Council to vet these numbers and ensure that the budget is honest and workable.
I would suggest that you get involved in ensuring that the budget is honest and realistic. A little accountability could go a long way in the transaction of business in our city. You could help make that happen.
The next meeting of Council will be held on Wednesday, March 18th at 7:00pm. The budget will be the primary topic of discussion at the meeting and the Caucus held beforehand at 6:30pm.
The 2015 Budget is available here. The first section is a simple overview of the revenues the finance director expects for the current year. The second section is a more in-depth record of the source of those revenues. The third section is the “Permanent Appropriations,” or estimate of expenses (or budget). Feel free to have a look for yourself at how the City of Maple Heights is planning to spend our money in 2015.