Mayor presents budget highlights to public

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Williamston Mayor Mack Durham presented information about the town’s finances and budget highlights during the Town Council meeting Monday. Durham’s presentation was generally the same one presented to council during a recent work session with a few changes.

The presentation included background information on the town’s finances under the two previous administrations and projections based on changes he has made during the four months he has been in office.

According to the mayor’s presentation, the town’s general reserve fund hit a low in 2005 during Phil Clardy’s second term as mayor at negative $188,476.

Following intervention by ACOG, the town’s reserves rebounded to $1.64 million by the end of Clardy’s term in 2008. This was in part due to a $14 garbage fee and other measures that were implemented by the town including cutting mayor and council salaries.

The town’s reserve fund initially increased by $384,000 to $2.027 million by the end of Carthel Crout’s first year in office in 2009 and then decreased by $564,298, to $1.46 million by 2012.

A chart included in Durham’s presentation reflected the trend, showing the town’s expenses exceeded revenues with a high point in 2011, but were almost back to even by the end of 2012.

According to the 2011-12 audit, the town’s fund balance decreased to approximately $900,000 in 2011.

The current mayor and representatives of ACOG projected the town would have a $300,000 deficit if the trend continued.

By June 2012 the downward decline had reversed and the fund balance had improved to $1.46 million.

Durham’s presentation stated that the town’s overspending during the first half of the 2012-13 budget year resulted in a $300,000 projected deficit.

According to Durham’s presentation, unbudgeted expenses for 2012-13 actually amounted to $247,764.

Among the Administrative Obstacles Overcome since Durham came into office:

The town paid out $61,159 in overtime due employees for incorrect payroll practices and additional costs of $8,376 after correcting payroll practices, the mayor said. There was also a delayed liability insurance brokerage fee of $8,500.

Also included in Durham’s figures is the overage on the Municipal Center parking lot improvement project of $84,416.

Durham said the town could have saved additional money during the last six months of the budget year if changes recommended when he first took office had been implemented.

The mayor said that delaying the transfer of police dispatch cost the town $54,048 and delaying defunding the administrator position cost the town $19,865 in pay while the administrator was suspended.

Severance pay to the administrator amounted to $11,400.

The changes made by Durham during his first four months in office will save the town $585,329 in the upcoming year.

Changes include: defunding the Adminstrator position saving $70,539 annually; eliminating a public works position saving $64,790: transfer of the police department dispatch saving $200,000; police department budget reduction of $150,000 and changes in the Clearwater WWTP contract saving $100,000.

Durham said the financial victories achieved were mainly from tightening up operations and decreasing the police budget.

The presentation also included comments about council working for the good of the town and Durham said they were “getting to know each other and being proactive to accomplish good things.”

The savings presented in the new budget also allow for funding of a new revitalization program the mayor would like to see the town involved in.

The Main St. SC program is offered through the State Municipal Association and will cost the town approximately $78,000 including start up costs and a paid coordinator.

Durham said the program offers a proven community revitalization plan.

After some discussion on the Main St. program, Council unanimously approved first reading on the budget without the funding for the program.

The initial vote on the budget with the Main St. SC program funding was 1-4 with only the mayor voting in favor of it.

The General Fund budget projects revenues of $2,258,704 to expenses of $2,258,704.