$65.6M general fund budget gets early OK

A cautious city general fund budget of $65.6 million won preliminary approval Thursday, but Carson City’s Board of Supervisors took a different tack on city workers’ compensation longer term.

In a departure some might consider bolder, the board voted to study employment system efficiency and to approach government pay decisions in a new manner. Based on an earlier Pontifex compensation study done by a consultant for the city, it was characterized as moving toward market-based approaches relying on pay for performance rather than continuing the current classification system with merit and cost-of-living adjustments.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Mayor Robert Crowell said about moving to follow the Pontifex recommendations. Supervisor Brad Bonkowski said, however, that he couldn’t support the change without a city government employment efficiency study to determine such things as whether the city is top-heavy on management and too light on “worker bees.”

After lengthy back-and-forth involving all five board members, the board voted unanimously to direct city staff to seek a recommendation on such an efficiency study from Moss Adams LLP, the consultant that already serves as the city’s internal auditor in collaboration with the Audit Committee.

Proceeding toward implementing the Pontifex study’s recommendations also secured sufficient board support, but the vote was 4-1 with Supervisor John McKenna dissenting. He said he was concerned about an impact in coming years that could saddle a future board with a costly situation, given that compensation is negotiated with representatives of classified employees and much must come under the aegis of Nevada labor law.

The motion on the Pontifex study called for moving toward implementation by using its recommendations for unclassified employees next fiscal year and beginning the process of negotiating with the employees’ organizations that represent those who are classified. The study, if followed, would re-order workers so their pay for various skill sets would be 10 percent below or above the relevant market for similar jobs in other communities.

Regarding the fiscal year 2014-15 budget, it will be just $200,000 over the amount being spent for the year as FY 2013-2014 draws to a close June 30. The $65.6 million also is the equivalent of the $64 million spending guide adopted going into the current fiscal year. That means the boost amounts to about 2.5 percent.

According to Finance Director Nick Providenti, the projected ending fund balance for this fiscal year was set at $3 million, or 5 percent, but for the coming fiscal year will be $3.6 million, or 5.8 percent. Such a cushion could be termed a reserve and provides flexibility for city government as the year progresses and matters change.

It was the mayor who called Providenti’s budget recommendation a cautious budgetary approach despite what looks like an improving economy with potential for slowly ascending city tax revenues.

“It looks positive; there’s no doubt about it,” he said. “But the watchword is, remain cautious.”

Providenti estimated property-tax revenues for FY 2014-15 at about $22 million, and consolidated tax revenues, which are mostly in sales-tax take, at $21.5 million. Those two account for about two-thirds of the general fund. The property-tax levy earlier was pegged at $3.54 instead of $3.56, a 2-cent drop from this year’s rate, or about $17.50 less for a house worth $250,000.

The balance of the general fund revenue comes from licenses and permits, taxes on services and miscellaneous sources.

The all-funds budget, which includes enterprise funds, federal funds and every other revenue source fund, is pegged at $127 million. It is the general fund portion, however, that directly affects local taxpayers.

Board members also heard and accepted a report from the Utility Finance Oversight Committee, which deals with the sewer, water and storm water budget, and the utility revenue stream from rates. In addition, members did their work as the Redevelopment Authority to approve a $1.7 million spending guide.


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