Budget time for city leaders

Budget time for city leaders

Municipal Departments looking ahead to 2017


West Memphis city administrators will soon be sharpening their pencils and crunching the numbers, putting together their plans for next year, with the City Council providing input and oversight before voting on the final product.

City Treasurer Frank Martin and the Budget Committee are looking at the city’s finances as department heads constructing the 2017 budget. The fiscal budget coincides with the calendar year and needs to be ready for a timely City Council vote for approval.

Martin said department heads are working on their new budgets now.

“The budget information went out this week,” said Martin. “Everybody is working on budgets now that I’ve given them costs.

They are due back to me by Nov. 15 so I can have it to Council by Dec. 1, which is according to State law.”

West Memphis legislators fumbled the procedure during last year’s budget process, bringing in the budget through a committee report. Auditors flagged the city over the procedure and Martin promised to dot the i’s and cross the t’s in filing the new budget. Budget Committee Chairman, Councilman Tracy Catt promised to align budget approval with auditor’s observations.

“We’ll start hearing the ordinance reading at the first meeting in December and have it finished with the first meeting in January, if

Financial literacy star at AWM

Academies of West Memphis senior Jatierney Rogers became the first student at the school to be certified for financial literacy. She earned A's for every unit, ranging from savings, banking, payment types, credit scores, higher education, renting vs owning, insurance and taxes, consumer protection and investing. The online financial literacy class was made possible by local Regions Bank manager Scotty Lackland and it is sponsored by the Arkansas Department of Education. The bank donated ear buds for each student.

Photo courtesy of WMSD not read twice at the final meeting in December,” said Catt. “One way or the other, it will be done right and done on time.”

Martin expects next year’s budget to be a virtual carbon copy of the 2016 budget, with one exception. The cost of employee health insurance and other benefits will rise. United Health Care asked the city for a switch to them for vision and life insurance, and in turn promised to keep health insurance increases down.

“They said if we switched, they’d lower the increase to 2.5 percent,” said Martin.

That increase would amount to group health insurance premiums of $60,000 for the city.

Martin said differences in the level of life insurance and details in the optical coverage did not match, lining up apples to oranges. “So that may be a problem,” said Martin.

By John Rech