Controller presents 2020 Proposed Budget to Common Council

September 4, 2019

This budget proposal is a sound and responsible fiscal plan that will enable the City to serve the interests of its residents and visitors. This budget will provide appropriate resources to serve our community and provide continued public safety protection, maintain our roads and streets, invest in our park system, and continue upgrading our long-term capital needs, while striving to enhance the overall quality of life for the citizens of our community. This budget will also form the basis for our submittal to the Government Finance Officers Association’s (“GFOA”) Distinguished Budget Presentation Program. We are pleased to have earned this award again for 2019, our third consecutive honor, and look forward to submitting the FY 2020 budget for consideration. With the 2020 proposed budget, we are taking the next step forward and providing for the City’s long-term financial stability and enhancing the quality of life in Lawrence.

 

2020 Budget Proposal Highlights:

 

Our budget proposal is a fiscally responsible budget; highlights of the 2020 budget request include:

 

·      Taking the next step forward with balanced priorities – continued allocation of budgetary spending for public safety, maintaining our vast infrastructure, and extending quality of life and economic development initiatives

o   Proposed spending on Public Safety in 2020 is $25.8 million, which represents a 7.7% increase from the 2019 Proposed Budget and an almost 37% since 2016. Priorities include:

o   Funding for the purchase of new police vehicles, further continuing the 5-year fleet replacement program о Purchase of a new fire engine, marking a significant milestone – complete replacement of the entire Fire fleet

o   A 6% salary increase for all first responders о Continues funding for body cameras and replacement of Tasers о Continued emphasis on funding for police officer training – in excess of over 400% increase since 2016

o   Purchase of additional gators for public safety and enhanced rescue efforts

 

 

·      Taking the next step forward with quality of life initiatives for the Park Department, cumulative funding which has increased nearly $2.6 million since 2016:

 

o   Funding for new playground equipment at Alexander Park

o   Funding for improvements to Louis J. Jenn Memorial Park

o   Funding for the preparation of a Parks Master Plan

o   New mowers

o   New maintenance vehicle

 

·      Unprecedented commitment to our Street Department, with cumulative funding increasing over $10 million since 2016. Our 2020 budget proposal includes:

 

o   Additional funding for paving – over $7 million since 2016

o   Funding for the hiring of two additional Street Department employees

o   Additional fleet and equipment upgrades

 

·      This budget also proposes the creation of an additional Internal Services Fund to provide more clarity and accountability on the actual cost of providing garage fleet services throughout the City

·      Due to our strong financial health, we can begin to take the next step forward for connectivity and quality of life by allocating resources for the following:

 

o   Approximately $500,000 for the City’s match for the Amy Beverland sidewalk

o   Funding to apply for a Next Level Trails matching grant to connect Fall Creek trail to 59th Street via Lee Rd

o   This important initiative will begin connectivity to our City Center and Fort Harrison State Park

                   

 

·      Our 2020 budget proposal also includes funding for:

o   A robust energy savings program to upgrade City owned facilities and streetlights with energy efficient equipment

o   $200,000 provided for the City Council for a project of their determination

o   Continued emphasis on quality Economic Development, with the continued development of the Trades District accommodating a variety of companies and industries

 

Financial Health:

 

Despite all we have proposed to accomplish in 2020, we are taking the next step forward for the long-term financial stability of the City with a fiscally responsible budget. Our 2020 Proposed budget is a balanced budget. We will also achieve an important milestone in 2020. The City’s reserved General Fund Operating Balance will be maintained for the second consecutive year at 20% of budgeted expenditures for 2020. By way of comparison, the State of Indiana’s operating reserve is 13.3% of expenditures. It is extremely important to maintain this operating reserve, as it provides a safety net against unexpected emergencies and potential shifts in revenue forecasts. It also allows the City to discontinue interim borrowing with Tax Anticipation Notes for cash flow needs, providing substantial interest cost savings to the General Fund. The City can also now proactively manage its short-term investments, generating interest income, a new revenue source. And finally, unreserved funds above the 20% reserve can be released and used for one-time capital investments. With our 2020 budget proposal, we are pleased to release nearly $1.8 million in unreserved funds for this purpose. The financial discipline over the past 3 years and the cooperation with our Common Council have made this accomplishment possible. It has also allowed us to take the next step forward with an ambitious set of projects and addressing personnel in 2020.

 

This budget document is a reflection of the hard work, dedication, and teamwork demonstrated by all Department Heads and their employees. While challenges remain to our long-term sustainable funding of certain services, we are taking the next step forward with this fiscally responsible budget to maintaining the City’s financial health.