Opp City Council passes budget

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 3, 2003

The Opp City Council passed its 2003-2004 budget at the Monday night meeting unanimously. Compared to last year's budgets, there were some notable cuts and additions in line item numbers. The most obvious revenue cut was in estimated general property tax for real estate, at $455,000, down from the 2003 estimate of $506,000. The approximated $50,000 drop, according to Mayor Jerry Boothe, is due almost directly to the closings at Opp-Micolas Mills. Much of that loss, however, will be made up with the recently hiked cigarette tax, which the mayor estimates will bring in about $85,000, compared to last year's $39,000.

A loss of about $30,000 has been estimated in the 2-cent local sales tax revenues as well, based on last year's approved budget figure of $1.2 million. The estimated budget, which is the amount actually spent,

for 2002-03, however, listed

that revenue at $1.14 million, less than the $1.17 million estimated for 2003-04.

"Our revenues are not increased much," said Boothe, "They're just about where they have been, except for the cigarette tax."

Most of the increases in the expenditure listings of the budget are due to insurance premium increases, Boothe told the council.

"We got a 10 percent rate adjustment from Blue Cross," he said.

He added that compared to other cities with municipal insurance plans, Opp was actually "better off," since some of them face 20 percent increases.

One significant jump in numbers was in the monies dedicated to senior citizens, from $67,600 to $82,700. Boothe said that it was due to the establishment of the new senior citizens center and the salary of Kay Donaldson, its director.

In almost every other department, however, the city opted to follow the state's example, and cut funding - in some cases drastically.

"Everybody's going to have to operate with a tighter thumb," said Boothe.

"It's going to be a tight year," agreed Councilman Jimmy Rogers.

One of the harder hit departments was education. The total educational department expenses in the approved budget last year was $220,000, with the estimated budget being $180,000. This year, only $184,500 has been budgeted for the educational department, $35,500 less than the amount approved in last year's - but $4,500 more than what the city estimates it actually spent last year.

Opp Public Library will also be feeling the financial bite - on paper. Although the difference between last year's approved budget of $70,000 for the library appears to be different from this year's approved $63,000, the latter number is exactly the same amount

that the city estimates it actually paid last year.

Administrative costs for next year were estimated at $262,500, which is less than the amount in the approved budget, but more than the amount estimated to have been actually spent. Office supplies for the administrative department climbed from the budgeted $5,000 to $19,000, due to outfitting the new City Hall and other items. The 2003-04 budgets lists only $4,000 for office supplies in that department.

Overall, under the City Hall public buildings, fire department, street department, sanitation department, shop department, and parks and recreation department, less money was budgeted in 2003-2004 than was budgeted or spent in 2002-2003. The police department had an increase of approximately $40,000, the bulk of which came from the addition of Housing Authority police salaries. Through the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant, the city gets $36,000 of that money back.

The only other department to show an increase in spending was the judicial department, with a raise of $100.