Streetlights for the city of Lincoln were $14,000 last year. The
streets department superintendent, Tracy Jackson, anticipates that
this year's bill will be $120,000, but to be safe he budgeted
$150,000. This figure doesn't include the streets department
building or anything else.
Aldermen, Mayor Davis and department
heads met for a third and final time Saturday morning to work on the
2007-2008 fiscal year budget, which begins May 1. What began as a
$700,000 deficit is now set to be $35,376 in the black and could be
more with any luck.
Some luck had already come the city's way just between budget
meetings. The new insurance consultant was able to help find
lower-cost insurance policies for the city. The new commercial
insurance will cost $231,952. This saves over $80,000 from the
general fund and a little savings from some other funds as well,
according to the city clerk, Melanie Riggs.
At Monday evening's meeting, Larry Bielema from Callender and Co.
in Peoria said that the policy savings for the area of police and
public officials and for workers' compensation had some to do with
the right time, some hungry new markets out there and some to do
with the city. He complimented the city, saying, "Whatever you're
doing, you do well. That reflects on insurance costs."
Before starting Saturday morning's meeting, Verl Prather, in his
fourth year as finance chair, said, "I talked to the mayor when I
first started, and we agreed we were never going to pass an
imbalanced budget. We haven't yet and we're not going to."
He then said that he had a plan, and something had come to the
city clerk that morning also, so there were two options.
We're trying to leave a sufficient amount for projects for next
year in a 0.5 percent non-home-rule sales tax fund to end next year
with $307,500, he said. A portion of that can be taken out, but I
don't really want to do that, he said. Another option is just simply
to eliminate one of our street projects this year.
Riggs said that there is less than $5,000 left to pay for phase
one of the Sysco project, and together with phase two, the total
amount that will be paid out is $1,324,924. However, the state will
pay $775,928 reimbursement, and there will be a $300,000 transfer
made now from the non-home-rule fund for those streets.
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This brought the deficit for the budget to $267,965.
Initially two street projects were budgeted: Omaha at $200,000
and Sherman at $250,000. It was decided to go ahead with the Sherman
Street work, as that bonding work has a time limit of July 2008, and
put off Omaha Street for a year.
Plotner suggested that another savings could be realized by
outright purchasing rather than leasing two police vehicles and
renting a third. The rough estimate would see a savings of $31,000.
Another savings that could be seen during the year is if the
electricity rate were to go back to where it was.
Dave Kitzmiller of EMC shared some information about some
anticipated future savings at the sewer plant. They will begin
saving energy on some of the motors through the use of some new
capacitors on the motors. EMC is investing in a three-year project
in purchasing the capacitors at a total of $185,000.
The motors are only 70 percent efficient, and the electricity is
metered coming in. The unused 30 percent of the electricity is
returned to the electric company but not credited. The capacitors
store that energy and are guaranteed to save 15 percent of that
electricity; representing $60,000 a year in savings. They also
extend the life of the motor. After they are paid for, it will mean
a savings in energy for the city.
EMC has tried but was unable to bundle enough customers together
to qualify to purchase electricity wholesale.
What EMC has decided to do is to prepare a contract for the city
of Lincoln to pre-sign when the market price drops low enough, and
they will be able to sign that day. These rates change hourly,
Kitzmiller said. The city could see as much as 10 percent savings
this way, he said.
Mayor Beth Davis thanked Prather, the committee, aldermen and the
department heads for their work on the budget and for keeping
end-of-year spending down, "That makes a difference," she said.
Monday's meeting was adjourned to April 24 so the council can
vote to accept the proposed budget.