PLEASANT GROVE -- Pleasant Grove's new finance officer isn't trying to do anything fancy or frilly with the proposed 1999-2000 $7.9 million city budget.
He just wants it to balance and to hold steady while the city grapples with growth."This is a challenge for me. The budget is pretty tight," said Gary L. Clay, who hired on with Pleasant Grove a month ago. "What I'm trying to do is get out of long-term debt and not gain more so we can get into a normal cycle and build up some capital improvement funds. It's going to take a few years."
Clay said few, if any, department heads got their wish list this year.
The budget proposal simply keeps things even.
"A lot of it is just postponing because we anticipate revenues will go up in the next few years," Clay said.
Businesses and projects destined to make money for the city are either just coming on line or will within the next year.
In the meantime, the tremendous growth in Pleasant Grove has significantly increased demands for services.
"Public safety is our largest area of increase," Clay said. "We need more fire, more police, more of everything."
Medical and insurance costs are up for employees. The city needs a senior citizen center and a new library as well as more space for public works.
Clay said when he started work on the budget, which was already under construction by the time he joined the staff, the budget requests outstripped revenues by $112,000 and were headed upward.
"My philosophy is that you figure out the revenues and make the expenses meet that.
"You don't try to do it the other way around."
To get the financial picture squared away, Clay is recommending a major refinancing of redevelopment agency debts, sort of a consolidation loan for the city.
That will retire some old debt, eliminate a floating interest rate on a revolving RDA loan and get lower interest rates on some of the rest by issuing a municipal building authority bond for $2 million to $2.9 million, Clay said.
If the City Council agrees, that should free up a little money to go toward employee raises and put the city in a better position for dickering next year, he said. There should be no new tax increases or fee increases except for a small increase in garbage collection.
There will also be no additional personnel. Two new full-time positions, a fire chief and a leisure services director were added last year.
Council members immersed themselves in budget discussions at a retreat Monday, Clay said, and will present a final draft budget to the public June 15.
Cities must approve new budgets by July 1 each year.
"We're a little behind this year in the process," Clay said, "but we're getting caught up.
"We're feeling really positive."