Financial crunch

Williamson Mayor discusses economic situation

Mayor Carlton

WILLIAMSON – This past weekend, Williamson Mayor Robert Carlton, released a statement indicating that due to the downturn in the local economy, budget cuts of up to 25 percent are possible for the next fiscal year and personnel reductions for the city are expected.

The press release states, “On Tuesday May 17, 2016 a special meeting of the Mayor, Clerk and Williamson City Council was held as scheduled and announced at the last City Council meeting in order to again review the actual and projected revenue receipts and expenses for the fiscal year for the City Hall Departments including Police, Fire and Streets and Sanitation’s.

Revenues for the City of Williamson continue to decrease and are significantly below budget projections even after adjustments to the budget were made in February. Due to severe downturns in the economy, budget projections used in prior years could not adequately reflect the newest situation and the extent of the current ongoing loss of revenues.

As a result of the current revenue shortfalls, the Mayor and Council upon voted unanimously to issue a freeze on all discretionary spending. Also, overtime is not allowed except by written permission from the Mayor’s office and in his absence from the City Clerk for police court appearances. All police vehicles are to be parked at City Hall when not being used for patrols by on duty personnel, ther press release stated.

Personnel reductions either by attrition or termination are expected unless new revenues are created. Reductions by retirements have already occurred this fiscal year and the positions went unfilled. Police, Fire, Clerk and Mayor budgets are more easily adjusted and are subject to Civil Service protection provisions, Carlton stated.

The police pension has by vote of its board closed the current program to new entrants and the City has placed the unfunded liability on a fifty year payment plan thereby making available each year around $40,000.00 due to reduced required yearly contributions.

Contractual liabilities to Veolia for operation of the street and garbage/sanitation departments are contracted into 2018 and have 3 percent yearly increases in the contracts. Discussions are continuing about adjustments to the 3% increases and perhaps even termination of the contracts. Termination is hindered by the termination charges and expenses in the contract and the accumulated arrearages.

Without a resolution via negotiations, the 3 percent incremental increases total for the two contracts beginning July 1 2016 will for the next fiscal year total over $50,000 in additional payments to Veolia.

Over the previous years, unfunded liabilities to Veolia have increased. Personnel of Veolia are not subject to layoffs by Council since they are employees of Veolia and are paid by Veolia from funds received from the City and Utility Board contracts which total well over $200,000.00 per month

Projected budget reductions due to revenue reductions for the next fiscal year for the City could be 15 to 25 percent if revenues are not increased. Additional sources of revenue are being considered such as increases in Business and Occupation taxes, Business License fees, Building Permit fees, dumpster fees and garbage fees.

The Fire Department through its Chief proposed and was authorized at the last Council meeting to implement the ambulance service to generate additional revenues for the City. A budget has been proposed and approved and Funds have already been authorized to implement the City ambulance service. Billing has been arranged through a third party for a nominal percentage of the fees collected.”

City Council meetings are held on the second and fourth Thursday of the month at 6:00 p.m. at Williamson City Hall.

Mayor Carlton Carlton
Williamson Mayor discusses economic situation
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