General Fund Revenues
A realistic approach was utilized when preparing the 2014 Budget by underestimating revenues and overestimating expenses. In an effort to enhance our residents’ quality of life, and to support local business growth, the Borough will continue to invest in public works, public safety (police, fire, and EMS), sanitary sewer infrastructure, parks and recreational facilities. The property tax rate will be need to be increased 1.25 mils from 7.5 mils to 8.75 mils to account for some major capital improvements that occurred in 2013 as well as those planned in 2014. This is expected to generate an estimated $3,478,566.00 based on a total local taxable assessed property value equal to $397,550,400.00. It is unfortunate that not all of this is collectable due to delinquent tax payers. Therefore, a 92% collection rate was assumed resulting in $3,114,753.00 in total current property tax revenues collected. This is equates to the following dedicated milage:
General Borough Operations 0.16 Mils $ 63,608.00
Capital Improvements 2.52 Mils $ 1,001,827.00
Public Safety 5.57 Mils $ 2,214,356.00
Library 0.50 Mils $ 198,775.00
Total 8.75 Mils $ 3,478,566.00
This is just an example of how one can relate Property Tax Millage to the Borough Budget. As you can see, the total Borough Budget is $16,556,339.12, with only $6,420,439.80 attributed to General Borough Operations. This demonstrates that only a fraction of what we pay in property taxes covers all of the Borough expenses and projects. The rest of the revenue is made up through “user fees,” grants, state funding, citations, etc. Unfortunately, grants and state funding have diminished greatly over the years.
A summary of the revenues sources being proposed for the 2014 Overall Brentwood Borough Budget are as illustrated below.
General Fund Expenditures
Generally, because of the need to meet the demands of a dense and older urban community that borders that City of Pittsburgh, operating requirements have increased in virtually every department. These requirements are reflected in the department funding requests. We recommended some service enhancements that meet the critical needs of our community, funding to further the work of meeting the Borough Council priorities and action plan, and fill gaps created by austere budgets and fiscal decisions made in previous fiscal years. This proposal supports basic government services such as road maintenance, sewer repair, transportation improvements, parks, policing, fire servies, and library services. Furthermore, it continues to address additional community needs such as economic development, stadium renovation, and Rt. 51 Corridor plans. The proposal contains all Borough programs, services and capital improvement projects that will be provided to Brentwood’s citizens and businesses from January 1, 2014, to December 31, 2014. It is a balanced financial plan that has been carefully prepared to provide Brentwood with a sustainable set of municipal services. The proposed budget for this fiscal year is the product of past achievements, current work, and future priorities.
The proposed 2014 budget presents an estimated 2% increase in revenues from $6.42 million to $6.55 million, in comparison to the 2013 Budget. The primary reason for the increase in revenues is due to 1.25 Mil tax increase. In addition, the 2014 general fund budget will continue to see a transfer from the Borough’s Sanitary Sewer Fund to account for General Fund expenditures that pertain to sanitary sewer related work and associated salaries. Expenditures will also be increasing from $6.42 million to $6.55 million. These improvements include a dedicated $700,000 toward roadway paving and maintenance, a new DPW building, and the Borough’s share of constructing the new park improvements. In addition, 2014 will see the construction of a new press box and bleachers, new playground and pavilion area, and planning for Borough Building renovations or reconstruction. The Borough was able to hold the line on employee costs due to improved operations and cuts in other Department line items. However, due to maintenance of older facilities and an older community, the Borough saw some of their largest increases in such departments such as Legal (16%), Police Department (13%), Planning and Zoning (11%), Public Works Department (18%), and Recreation (53%). Most of these department increases are associated with employee salaries and the increases to healthcare insurance. Recreation is also associated with the hiring of a new full-time Recreation Director.
The Borough’s Long Term Debt Principal and Interest Payments in 2014 will see an increase of (5%) from 2013 levels. This equates to a total debt principal and interest payment of $420,035 which is $20,000 more than 2013. This does NOT include a Tax Anticipation Note that the Borough did not take in 2013 nor will take in 2014.
Cuts will be realized by continuing to implement efficiency measures into Borough Operations without sacrificing Borough services. For example, Engineering expenditures will decrease (-50%) due to the Borough’s hiring of an Assistant Public Works Director who has an engineering degree. Decreases are also expected in IT/Networking (-2% decrease), Pool (-6%), Civic Center (-8%), Park (-10%), Stadium (-25%), and Insurances (-8%). Transfers to the Capital Improvement Fund will decrease (-16%) due to costs savings and lower bids realized during the 2013 Capital Improvement projects. A summary of the Proposed 2014 General Fund Expenditures are presented on the Table:
Sanitary Sewer Fund
Nearly $5 million dollars worth of expenditures are budgeted in the Borough’s Sanitary Sewer Fund for 2014. A majority of these expenses are associated with the increase in the ALCOSAN treatment fees as well as the major capital improvement repairs associated with the EPA Consent Decree Order.
Capital Improvement Fund
The 2014 Budget will also see nearly $3,000,000.00 in expenditures for such capital projects as the Borough’s 2014 Roadway Rehabilitation Project, a new Police Vehicle, two new Public Works trucks, a new DPW Gator, and new Crack Sealer. It also includes over $200,000 for Design Fees associated with a new Municipal Complex.
Brentwood Park Fund
The 2014 Budget will also see a fund associated with design and repairs for the Brentwood Stadium and park. The Brentwood Park fund is budgeted with $1,956,500.00 that will be used towards Phase III of the $8 million park and stadium renovation project. Phase III will include design and construction for new Bleachers, a Press Box, and Restrooms in the Stadium ,as well as new playground and pavilions for the Park.
Highway Aid Fund
Based on the November 2013 letter from Commonwealth of PA, 2013 Estimated Liquid Fuels allocation will be approximately $169,350.00. Due to the high price of motor vehicle fuels and the current economic conditions, revenue from liquid fuels purchases has declined. The amount available for the April 1, 2014 payment to municipalities is currently forecast to be less than the prior year. This amount is based on the mileage of 24.43 and a decrease in the population from 10,466 to 9,600 for Brentwood.
As you can see, there is a lot going on in the Borough. Brentwood Council is dedicated to ensuring the future of the Borough by taking the necessary steps to invest in the community. They are to be commended for their vision and for making hard decisions for the sake of the Brentwood. After all, if we are not willing to invest in Brentwood’s future, how can we expect anyone else to?
George Zboyovsky, PE