Despite an initial $385,839 projected deficit, the Georgetown Town Council is expected to adopt a balanced fiscal year 2014 budget at tonight's regular meeting.
An April 8 workshop yielded several cuts to the proposed budget that balanced the town's total revenues and expenditures at about $6.1 million, with no tax increases for residents.
"Even though this is not a painless budget by any stretch, it could have been more painful for sure," Councilwoman Linda Dennis said at the workshop. "Hopefully whatever happens this year, our hopes and dreams will come true so that we can realize more revenue and we won't be in this position next year."
On the revenue end, the council agreed to a $100,000 reliance on real estate transfer tax funds. In previous years, said Town Manager Gene Dvornick, the town's reliance on this fund has been zero. The council also agreed to use about $119,000 in sewer impact fees to offset debt.
To cut expenses, the council removed from the proposed budget a new part-time receptionist position and several vehicles requested by town department heads.
The town's 2 percent spending cap was also eliminated.
"We had instituted a couple years back that, as a town, we would not appropriate any more than 98 percent of our anticipated revenues," Dvornick said. "We've not been able to do that as of yet, due to the economic downturn."
Mayor Mike Wyatt said the town needs to work toward reinstating the spending cap.
"We should have enough money set aside to run this town for six months if we had not a penny come in," Wyatt said. "I don't think we're there, and that's where we need to be."
Although removal of two-step increases and level changes for town employees was on the table, the council was able to salvage this incentive program by moving a few numbers around. According to Dvornick, these pay increases "recognize training they've acquired or a new skill … based on completion of classes at DelTech."
The number of town employees, Dvornick added, has decreased steadily from a peak of 48 in 2007 to 36 for the upcoming year.
"What's important to remember is, in 2014, we're doing all the same work – with the exception of yard waste – with 25 percent less people than we had in 2007," Dvornick said.
Also on today's agenda are appointments to the Board of Elections and the first reading of an ordinance that extends the amount of time the town has to approve or reject building permits from 10 to 20 days.