City budget in good shape

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz The City of Alpena’s annual budget is a quarter of the way through and, so far, revenues far outpace expenditures. That will change as the fiscal year progresses and revenues dip and spending increases.

ALPENA –The first three months of the City of Alpena’s annual budget is in the books and, thus far, staff and the Alpena Municipal Council have done a good job keeping expenditures in-check.

If the trend continues, it is possible the city could erase a large portion of its $368,204 budget.

Clerk/Treasurer Anna Soik said the end of the first quarter was Sept. 30, and revenues and expenses should both be about 25 percent. Revenues are well above that, though, as the city has now received most of its summer tax revenue, which pushed revenues to 52.5 percent through the first three months of the budget year. Soik said nearly 89 percent of the summer tax payments have been received thus far.

Expenditures at the end of last month were at 24.89 percent, in-line with where they should be.

Soik said that, as revenues dip for the balance of the year because the city collects most of its taxes in the summer, the gap between revenues and expenses will tighten.

“Everything looks really good right now, and we always do our best to cut where we can to try to bring the deficit down,” Soik said. “As the year goes on, we might also find something in the budget that we realize we didn’t need, or there could be unexpected surprises that could increase our expenses.”

Soik said revenues for the police budget are lagging somewhat because it hasn’t yet received its allocation from liquor licenses in the city or any state grants. She said parking fines are also down, which hurts the police budget somewhat.

Department of Public Works revenue is also running behind because the city has taken in no rent for the department’s garage or payment of administrative services.

“Those typically don’t get charged out until December, so that will help the revenues at DPW,” Soik said.

Soik said expenditures for DPW will also look lopsided right now because an annual bond payment of $106,000 was made and, as the months stack up, the expenditures will spread out and –as is the case with the general fund — the gap between revenues and expenses will narrow.

“If you look at it now, it looks like we already spent 87 percent of the budget, but it will even out as we go,” Soik said. “It is just a one-time thing.”

Soik said that, in the coming months, she also wants to change the way water and sewer bill revenue is deposited. She said the revenue for both are deposited into the sewer fund only and not the water fund. That leads to figures that appear skewed and not a true indicator of what should be in each account. She said the sewer fund’s cash balance at the end of September was about $2 million, and the water fund shows it is in the red by $1.7 million.

“To make it simple, there is more money in the sewer fund than what there should be and less than there should be in the water fund,” she said. “I want to see if we can make it so the revenue for each goes into each. Right now, we would be able to go back to July 1, because everything before that has been audited and we can’t touch it, and allocate it properly from here on out.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or 989-358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter @ss_alpenanews.