I spent the weekend pouring over the old city budgets. They are all available online here.
A bit of background before getting to the numbers. The fiscal year for the city runs July 1 to June 30. So, city council started working on Fiscal Year 2017-18 in January of this year. In the interest of clarity, I am going to call the current budget we are operating under Fiscal Year 2018, but realize that it started several months ago on July 1, 2017.
What follows is total city expenditures budgeted by city council for each fiscal year. That is, this is what city council planned to spend. Spending could, in fact, be more or less because of all kinds of circumstances, but what these numbers represent is the fiscal intent of city council.
Here are the numbers in dollar amounts:
From 2009 to 2012 the budget grew by $444,572, or 5.51%. These are the years I was on council and involved in the budget process. The budget is the result of the work of 9 members of council, so I don’t want this to sound like this small increase was all because of my efforts. It wasn’t.
This is pretty much right in line with inflation, maybe even a bit less, depending on whether you are using the CPI (Consumer Price Index) or the Federal Reserve’s preferred PCE (Personal Consumption Expenditure) which is usually lower than the CPI.
From 2013 to 2016 the budget grew by $1,858,480 or 21.9%
Whoa! What happened to the budget in 2013? The citizens elected two new members to city council, Jimmy Carroll and Jimmy Ward when they defeated the incumbents Brian Duffy and Ralph Piening in the November 2011 election. Jimmy Ward, in particular, campaigned incessantly as a “fiscal conservative.” Carroll and Ward joined Ryan Buckhannon and Mike Loftus who also call themselves “fiscal conservatives.” Upon joining city council in January 2012 they began work on the 2013 budget and it came in less than the budget for 2012. The budget for 2014, though, saw quite an increase.
Then, for budget year 2015, the city added two more new city councilmembers in Patrick Harrington and Sandy Ferencz who replaced Sandy Stone and Doug Thomas when the latter two decided not to seek re-election in November 2013.
From 2015 to 2017 the budget grew by $1,343,510 or 14.1%
This budget cycle now had 5 “fiscal conservatives” on city council, a majority! They could have worked together and controlled the spending, but instead the spending continued to increase.
For budget year 2017 council added 2 new members in Ted Kinghorn and Carol Rice when Ryan Buckhannon and Mike Loftus decided not to run for re-election. Kinghorn and Rice took office in Jan 2016 and started work on the budget for 2018.
With these 2 new members on council the budget grew by$348,231 or 3.2%
Here’s the point: the city is not growing and there have been no disasters but until this fiscal year (2018) the budget is rapidly growing. In fact, it is growing 2.7 times the rate of inflation when we look at the budget growth from 2013 to 2018.
A lot of this growth is in personnel costs and cannot be scaled back without letting employees go. I don’t think anyone is advocating that, especially since the IOP has great employees. It seems to me efforts should be made to contain future increases.