Funding for an additional librarian and police sergeant, several new police cars and salary increases in certain departments are being considered for the Bee Cave 2012–13 fiscal year budget.
Bee Cave City Council on July 24 had its first workshop on the preliminary budget. During the meeting, council heard from department heads about what they think should be funded in the upcoming budget year.
The FY 2012–13 budget goes into effect Oct. 1.
The police department requested an additional $57,000 to hire a fifth sergeant. The department originally planned to ask for the additional position in FY 2009–10, but did not because of the economic downturn, Chief Russell Pancoast said.
Pancoast said the additional sergeant is needed for proper oversight on every regular shift.
"I'm still concerned about supervision," he said.
The preliminary police budget also includes $167,500 for the purchase of three police vehicles. The department needs to replace the 2005 models that have almost 100,000 miles on them, Pancoast said.
Other police budget requests:
A department salary increase of about $34,000. Council approved the salary increase in May.
A $2,000 reduction for clothing and uniforms due to a lower-than-anticipated turnover rate.
A $6,500 increase to replace the carpet in parts of the police station, and $2,000 to install a vent on the evidence dryer in the evidence room.
The preliminary library budget includes a proposed $44,000 to add a librarian position in January 2013.
Library Director Barbara Hathaway said the position was originally approved in Fiscal Year 2008–09, but was eliminated before it was filled because of the economic downturn. Hathaway said the library serves an increasing amount of people and needs the resources to respond.
The proposed librarian position would be in charge of helping plan the Summer Reading Program and be available to provide homework help to students throughout the year during the library's after-school hours, Hathaway said.
Hathaway recommended that the position not be filled until January because of the construction on the Bee Cave City Hall and Library building.
The position would cost the city $44,000 in the first fiscal year and $58,000 the following full fiscal year.
Mayor Caroline Murphy said the city should consider waiting to add additional librarians until after the Lake Travis Community Library opens, which is expected to happen at the end of the year. The library, which will be at 1938 Lohmans Crossing, could reduce the number of visitors to the Bee Cave Library, she said.
But Hathaway said that even if the new library reduces the number of annual visitors by 10,000, an additional position would still be needed to help reinstitute the library's normal summer reading program.
Councilwoman Zelda Auslander said the city should support the library when possible since it brings people to the Hill Country Galleria and serves a community need.
"I think that a lot of what we do is not very visible to the community," she said. "This is the one thing that is really, really visible to not only our residents but to the community that helps pay our sales tax."
Other library department budget requests:
- A $5,000 increase for supplies such as books, audiobooks, E-Books and magazines;
- A $15,000 increase to replace the outdoor book returns, which Hathaway said are too small, and four of the library staff computers;
- And a $10,000 increase to add a seasonal position for a temporary library clerk.
Other budget requests
Council members did not strongly disagree with any of the proposed departmental budget increases.
"I think everything I've seen so far is reasonable," Councilman Steve Braasch said.
Salvato said the city would consider purchasing some of the proposed budget items for FY 2012–13, such as the police cars, this budget year. The city could have a contingency fund of up to $800,000 that could be used to purchase some of the items, he said.
A second budget workshop is scheduled for Aug. 14. A third budget workshop, if needed, is scheduled for Aug. 28.
Salvato said council would likely approve a 2012–13 budget Sept. 11.
A majority of the revenue that goes into Bee Cave's general fund comes from the city's sales tax.
The preliminary fiscal year 2012–13 budget has $6.25 million in projected sales tax revenue and $185,432 in property tax revenue for the fiscal year. City Administrator Frank Salvato said the projections are conservative, as the sales tax estimate for the current fiscal year is about $6.8 million.
"I always project low and make sure we fall within the budget," he said.
The city always budgets a nine-month reserve, which will total about $3.85 million for FY 2012–13, Salvato said. Most cities can only afford a three-month reserve, Salvato said.
"I think we're in pretty darn good financial shape," Councilwoman Zelda Auslander said.
Salvato has proposed starting a separate sales tax reserve that could be built up to respond to a possible downturn in the economy. Salvato said the reserve would be helpful since Bee Cave's general fund is primarily dependent on sales tax, which can fluctuate more than a property tax.
"It's totally based on people shopping and the economy," he said of the city's sales tax. "Right now it's great out here because there is great shopping and there's more and more people coming, so we're not expecting a dramatic drop. But I think to be fiscally responsible you have to be conservative and you have to plan for those days, because the economy cycles."