City of Lake Charles projects $2.5-M budget deficit - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

City of Lake Charles projects $2.5-M budget deficit

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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

Money coming in, money going out - for the City of Lake Charles it translates into $61,000,000 for the 2012 - 2013 Fiscal Budget. At a special meeting Tuesday night the Lake Charles City Council adopted the budget which becomes effective Oct. 1.

Accounting for every penny is City Finance Director Karen Harrell. Harrell explained 63 percent of the budget falls under salaries, overtime retirement contributions and other fringe benefits.

"Those retirement benefits have been increasing. Those are contributions that we can't control and we have to make the contributions that are required by our state retirement system. So that's the biggest challenge we have going forward," said Harrell.

Like last year, the city projects a $2,500,000 operating deficit. However Harrell explained it's a conservative number because this year they anticipate to end with a $1,300,000 shortfall.

But unlike last year department heads at City Hall did not have to have to cut back.

"Before the budget was approved last year we amended it and asked department heads to make more cuts. And if you remember in our 2011 budget. We eliminated 30 vacant positions. So we have not added any of those positions back and we just work real hard. I think the council recognizes that our departments are doing the best they can to operate efficiently with less people," said Harrell.

Even with a deficit the city still has money on hand: $21,000,000 in surplus to be exact. Harrell said that is just above the 30 percent of the general fund they work to maintain from year to year.

65% of the city's revenue is generated from sales tax. 2012 saw a 3 percent increase and city officials hope that trend continues.

"The sales tax that we have projected are conservative. We really anticipate the revenues will be better. We think the economy is on the upswing and that's what we are looking forward to," said Harrell.

Also adopted was next year's capital budget which includes $13,000,000 in improvements to roads, sewers, drainage and other projects.

2012 - 2013 General Fund:

Salaries: $23,801,755 (41 percent)

Overtime: $1,850,500 (3 percent)

Retirement Contributions: 4,971,040 (9 percent)

Other Fringe Benefits: $5,799,930 (10 percent)

General Operating Services: $397,926 (1 percent)

Property & Casualty Insurance: $4,313,741 (8 percent)

Maintenance: $1,765,175 (3 percent)

Utilities: $2,160,920 (4 percent)

Contractual Services: $2,394,200 (5 percent)

General Supplies: $957,675 (2 percent)

Auto Supplies & Fuel: $2,394,200 (4 percent)

Materials & Equipment: $1,452,000 (3 percent)

Major Acquisitions: $1,603,200 (3 percent)

Special Current Charges: $3,031,260 (5 percent)

Transfers: $4,220,135

Total General Fund Expenses: $61,661,757

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