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budgetsThe Conway City Council recently held workshops to review the upcoming city budget and operations.

Below are raw, unedited notes from a citizen who attended the first workshop.  If you couldn’t attend the workshops, these notes may be enlightening.

It seems Conway citizens are getting more tax increases and franchise fee increases as well as business license fees as the City scrambles to pay for “nice-to-have” city amenities over providing for basic services.


First presenter was Tyler Winningham:

In addition to budget issues, the City is having a cash flow crunch now.  Part of the reason is the timing of the expenses of the new airport project.

So far, the general fund has fronted $1.1 million to the airport project.

To balance the 2014 budget, there were $3.3 million in cuts made to the initially proposed budget.

This included all training and travel, along with all capital expenditures that were not funded with dedicated funds.

Tyler feels these items should be restored.  In his own words: We need to “get our foot off our own throat”.  He feels the city is strangling itself by not raising revenues.

He proposed the following increase in revenues, which can be done simply by a vote of the Council:

1) Raise millage for general fund from 1.9 to 5 mils
Will bring in 3 million / year

2) Raise franchise fee on electric service from 2.5 to 4.25%
Will bring in 1 million / year

3) Implement franchise fee on water and sewer service at 4.25%
Will bring in .7 million / year

4) Implement business licenses

He also presented an analysis of the pension fund.  For the non-uniformed city employees, they are fully vested in the pension at 10 years of service, which ensures at age 60 they get 50% of their salary, for life.

His analysis concluded this pension fund has unfunded liabilities of $14.5 million.  He concluded this pension needs approximately $1 million ADDITIONAL per year.

Police Chief and Fire Chief spoke next.

One common item:  When every other employee in city was raised to the midpoint of surveyed salaried levels, the uniformed employees were not.

ALL other city employees just had to show up to work to have their pay raised to the midpoint of the competitive levels from the JESUP study (from the proceeds of the tax rededication/increase approved by voters in February 2012.)

The uniformed employees were required to obtain additional certifications to get increases, and their increases were NOT fully funded.  They are still waiting.

Remember the Mayor passed the tax increase using police/fire salaries as part of the justification.

Other employees received raises, some very large raises from 15% to 25%.  Some of the more highly paid employees received some of the largest raises, yet the police and fire department salary range adjustments are still not implemented, and there are NO plans to do so.

Sanitation Department:

Has spent all of the $2 million from the bond issue except for about $75,000.
Wants to replace garbage trucks on a 5 year basis.
Suggested an ordinance to eliminate on street parking on trash pickup mornings
Wants plastic dumpsters in certain areas to reduce noise of dumping
Wants $500,000 capital project needed to recycle shingles