Time to make a budget

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First workshop July 9

By Carolyn Ten Broeck, Editor

Spreadsheets, pencils and long days and nights will soon take shape as the city of Williston starts its FY 2013-2014 budget process.

The first workshop in the weeks-long project takes place next Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the council chambers.

City Manager Scott Lippmann and Stephen Bloom, the city’s finance director, have been poring over figures, expectations and realities in order to anticipate any questions council members or residents may have next week.

“The big question,” Lippmann said, “is what revenues will look like. It’s easy to control expenses but not the revenues.”

Lippmann said the Levy County Property Appraiser estimated that the county assessments will be down about 3 percent.

“Williston’s a little better at about maybe 2 percent,” Lippmann said.

Next week’s meeting is sure to include lively discussions, Lippmann said, as the council sets its priorities.

Department heads have already submitted tentative budgets, he said, and some were smaller this year.

“They’re being prudent with their money,” Lippmann said, “saving a dollar here or a dollar there.”

The city manager has one huge goal as he sets forth on his first budget season with the city of Williston–to budget some type of pay increase for the city’s employees.

“It’s been five years,” he said, “and it’s main hope to include a cost of living increase if possible.”

The city manager said he’s also looking critically at cutting expenses in creative ways, like shopping the healthcare plan again.

The city’s phone systems will also move to state contract which could garner as much as a $1,200 monthly savings, he said.

“We’re looking at smart ways to save money without crippling the city’s ability to do business,” Lippmann said.