Mayor Linda Thompson’s 2013 Budget Presentation: UPDATED
This article has been updated to provide a link to the 2013 Budget, accessible in blue at the end of this article.
“2012 is the year of clarity.”
That is Linda Thompson’s theme as she enters her fourth year of her first term as Mayor of the City of Harrisburg. Last night she presented her third budget of her tenure. The Thompson Administration’s 2013 Budget is $56,365,315, an increase of about $2 million from the 2012 Budget. Thompson proclaimed the increase costs are a result of new hires the City will need to make, such as positions in the Bureau of Finance, police officers, code enforcement officers, and though she didn’t highlight it, a Communications Director. The Mayor’s Budget includes a Policy/Communications Director position with a salary of $70,000. She declared she has the blessing of the Receiver who reviewed her budget and agrees with “its premises & rationale.” In fact, throughout her speech, the Mayor referred to her adherence to the Receiver’s Recovery Plan to justify her proposed Budget.
As she has in past budget presentations, Thompson called her budget bared-boned. Looking at City Council, she said, “I ask that you not reduce this budget.”
Every year since she has been Mayor, City Council has reduced Thompson’s budgets. Perhaps in anticipation of this, she made a remark that things must be done differently, that everyone must work together, and that cuts cannot be made arbitrarily or by percentages.
City Council Budget and Finance Committee, Brad Koplinski Chair, begins its review of the 2013 Budget on Wednesday, December 5th at 5;30pm. As of now, a Budget vote is scheduled for December 18th during a Special Legislative Session at 6:00pm. Thus, between the 5th and the 18th, several public meetings will occur to go line by line over the Budget.
- Liquidation of city assets with Court approval can be expected by 3rd quarter of 2013
- Forecasting net revenues to be $53.2M in 2013
- Current expenditures are at $56.4M
- Anticipating $3.1M deficit in 2012
- The plan is to eliminate Incinerator debt, eliminate stranded debt, and balance the budget at the end of 2013
- “The Administration has carefully reviewed this budget, department by department and we have eliminated any costs not essential to City operations and the efficient delivery of public services as well as complying with the fiscal recovery plan.”
- 10% personnel and operating costs reduction
- 20% city jobs eliminated
- “We cannot currently cut this budget any further without operationally affecting the services to the City.”
- Utility transfers and the Coordinated Parking Fund transfers are down
- The land value of tax exempt properties in the City is $227,108,200, and the value of tax exempt buildings is $1.3B
- Budget challenges are lack of revenues, unfunded mandates, union legacy costs, fee generating legislation that City Council needs to pass
- The Administration will roll out a “fee reorganization plan” with estimated revenue increase of $100,000
- The City is looking into outsourcing various services such as the phone system and trash removal
- Currently there are 131 police officers compared to 171 in 2010
- 8 officers must be hired in January to maintain a grant with more to be hired by mid 2013
- Hiring of 9 firefighters in 2012 has resulted in a savings of $60,000 per pay period
- Maintaining the City’s public station, HGBTV Channel 20, is crucial because it provides educational programming
- Two more code enforcement officers expected to be hired in 2013
- The Department of Parks, Recreation, and Enrichment encompasses “the Mayor’s guiding principles.”
- The City of Harrisburg exhibits “world class customer service & [is] an employer of choice.”