Council approves budget; no tax increase for 2012

At Monday's St. Marys City Council meeting, the 2012 budget for the city was adopted following the required public review period. St. Marys Mayor Sally Geyer said the 2012 budget will not have a tax increase for city residents. "I just want to say that the taxes of St. Marys will not be raised for 2012 and all is in order," Geyer said. "We're running in the black, unlike many other cities in the country." Ordinance No. 272, the levy and assessment of taxes for the City of St. Marys for fiscal year 2012, was approved. The following taxes for 2012 will be assessed: 12.6082 mills for general revenue; 1.908 mills for debt service; .80 mills for erecting, operating and maintaining streetlights in the city; 1.2 mills for appropriations to fire companies and the storage of related equipment in the city; .24 mills for establishing and maintaining fire hydrants and fire hydrant water services; .58 mills for the library; .10 mills for appropriations to the city's nonprofit community ambulance service and rescue squads; and .90 mills for the city's parks and recreation programs and facilities. City Manager Dave Greene said a 4 percent rate relief on the city's health insurance and hospitalization plan will reduce the annual cost by $38,132. Health insurance costs for 2011 were $688,000. With the rate relief, the 2012 costs will be an estimated $917,595 instead of the previously estimated $955,727. Rates were reduced from an average of 42 percent to an average of 38 percent. "Even with the rate relief, the city will be paying $229,000 more in health insurance than it did in 2011. That's still a net savings for 2012 of $38,132," Greene said. "That's the best we could do right now with the type of plans we have. Right now we made a decision to go with a 4 percent reduction from Blue Cross Blue Shield and keep the same plans we have now."Greene said the matter will most likely be revisited in 2012, when the city will have to renegotiate with the police and city's other unionized employees. Geyer said the revenue collected for the general fund is at 99.98 percent of the budget, or $6.878 million. Last year in November, revenue was at 90.02 percent of the budgeted amount. Expenditures are currently at 87.98 percent of the budget; last year they were at 83.53 percent.Geyer said the benchmark would be at 91.6 percent and the remaining fund "are staying well within their budgeted amounts." Greene said there was $24,000 in unallocated funds in the budget and a proposal had been made to use some of the funding to provide a 3 percent wage increase for city employees in management positions. It was noted that the last wage increase for these employees was in 2009 and that the proposed increase would cost about $18,000. A motion to revise the wage and benefit schedule to use $18,000 of the $24,000 in unallocated funds to provide city employees in management positions with a 3 percent raise was approved.