Tuesday, June 19, 2012
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Treasurer, clerk and mayor talk finances for the city of Lincoln

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[June 19, 2012]  Each month at the third Monday meeting of the Lincoln City Council, the city treasurer, city clerk and department heads submit their reports for the prior month to the council. Treasurer Chuck Conzo and City Clerk Susan Gehlbach give oral reports, while the department heads submit their reports in writing.

This week the reports were based on the month ending May 31, the first month of the new fiscal year for the city.

Conzo was the first to speak, drawing attention to the general fund balance for the end of May. The figure totaled $491,934.34, which is approximately $310,000 more than the same month last year and over $600,000 more than May 2010, when the city had a negative balance of -$203,717.39 at the end of May.

Conzo pointed out that in May the city had received its local share of state income tax for both the months of December 2011 and January 2012. While the state is still running far behind in payments to the city, the two months' worth of income tax helped beef up the May balance.

Conzo also noted that receipts from the state for the municipal sales tax and non-home rule tax were up over previous payments. He said this was a good indication that local folks are spending money and spending it at home, which ultimately serves to benefit them, in that it allows the city to continue going forward.

Conzo also shared some annual comparatives on city revenues.

In March of 2011, when the city was building the budget for the year that has just ended, Conzo put together a projection of what the city might be able to expect in revenues.

Monday evening he shared that the projection had totaled $5,674,201 in state payments and $1,747,588 through the county. In the end, the totals for the year ending April 30, 2012, came to $5,663,146.12 on the state side and $1,739,730.66 on the county side, for a total net difference of approximately $19,000.

Conzo said the dollars received from the motor fuel tax were significantly reduced from what was projected. He called the situation "dismal" and said the city had earned $35,000 less than projected.

Conzo said this is primarily due to the high prices of gasoline in the last year. He explained once again, as prices of gas go up, consumption goes down, and thus the tax revenue goes down.

The gas tax is one of the few taxes in the state that is not based on a dollar value. Instead the tax is added to the gallon of gas. When less gas is being purchased, less tax is collected.

Conzo said that as long as politicians are convinced that high gas prices are desirable, the city will continue to suffer losses of revenue from the motor fuel tax.

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When Conzo was finished, Gehlbach offered an update on the collection of sewer bills.

Including the two prisons that are on the city sewer system, the total amount due to the city for all sewer accounts at the end of May was $245,201.47.

Gehlbach said the balance on past-due sewer bills totaled $118,525.28. In May the city collected just over $13,000 in delinquent sewer bills, making a total of $106,000 collected since January.

Mayor Keith Snyder told the council he had passed out to them a spreadsheet giving the rundown of expenditures that have been applied to the general obligation bond. He said he wanted aldermen to take a look at the list, as this would come up next week in the workshop session as the city works to find a way to upgrade some worn-out equipment for the fire department.

The city fire department currently has one fire truck that is over 20 years old and has a broken and un-repairable water tank. To replace the water tank is going to cost several thousand dollars, and once done, the apparatus will still be quite old and on the brink of being worn out.

Aldermen have been talking for a while about what can or should be done about this.

Currently Chief Mark Miller has made application to the state for a zero-interest loan for a replacement vehicle. Snyder said that to date Miller has not heard from the state on the application.

On a bright note, the city did receive $156,000 in capital plan funds from the state and has used that to pay off the note for the roof replacement on City Hall.

The money was promised to the city two years ago after Sen. Larry Bomke worked to get Lincoln included in the state's capital plan. However, the roof of City Hall was in dire condition and the city could not wait for the cash to arrive to do the roof replacement.

The roof was redone and the project was financed with payments coming out of the general obligation bond. With the receipt of the $156,000 from the state, the note is now paid off.


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