But the body was able to continue with a hearing on the proposed 2004-2005 budget.
A somewhat chagrined Kimball Ball, city finance director, told council members and assembled residents that the problem apparently lay in the software being used. The computer continued to print out the wrong totals in certain columns, despite all attempts to correct it.
As a result, it was decided to continue the hearing on amending the current budget to the next council meeting on June 15. The hearing will be set for 8:15 p.m. or as soon thereafter as the agenda permits.
Switching gears, council members took input on the 2004-2005 budget. The proposal, which calls for some increased spending, had raised concerns of a corresponding tax increase. But the document presented Tuesday, instead, makes use of fund balances and, to fund the hiring of two new police officers, a federal grant.
The cover sheet for the budget, however, did note that "this budget is indicative of the need to make some adjustments in the city's tax structure to ensure the stability of 'future' budgets and to ensure the level of service currently being provided by the city."
The general fund budget of $2,324,249 includes a projected $204,728 increase in revenues due to rises in franchise taxes, building permits, fines and forfeitures and the federal grant. But, it also calls for a $284,661 increase in expenditures, leaving a deficit of $79,933. This is made up by drawing on reserves.
The police department budget will see $143,187 of that increase, mostly due to the hiring of two new officers. While a $69,000 federal grant will cover salaries and benefits, the city will have to provide for the additional equipment needed.
Mayor Carl Martin and members of the council explained to the audience that the city should make most of that up in the increased fines and forfeitures the new officers bring in.
Among the other highlights revealed, the administrative department budget would increase by $12,387. Most of this is due to increases in personnel costs "including the annualized salary for the new finance director." It also reflects a 2 percent hike in cost of living and an 11 percent increase in health insurance costs passed on to the city.
Because revenues fell short of expected levels, the golf course will need a subsidy this year. The amount will total $61,584 with $38,040 coming from the capital improvement fund with the rest consisting of a transfer from the general fund.
"We expect that as we pay off the bonds on the golf course," said Martin, "that it will begin to show a profit."
City administrator Wendell Wild noted that the first of the two bonds will be retired in 2008 and the second in 2013. If not for these, the budget statement asserts, the course would be turning a $300,000 profit annually.
The 2004-2005 proposal also creates a new capital equipment replacement fund. The seed money for this fund was a $126,933 transfer from the capital improvement fund. This transfer will still leave $1.9 million in the latter fund. Other monies for the replacement fund will come from the general fund.
Resident Debbie McKean questioned the expenditure for the two new police officers, noting that, while the city could certainly make use of the additional manpower, other areas in the city needed to be addressed as well. Among those, she said, were streets and sidewalks.
Other residents still wondered how the city could call the golf course an "asset" when it continues to need subsidies from other funds.
These comments were noted and will be considered as council members craft a final budget, set for approval June 15.