Landrum tightens belt on 2013-2014 budget

Published 4:57 pm Friday, August 30, 2013

Landrum City Council members scrutinized every line item in the town’s proposed 2013-2014 budget during a work session held Tuesday, Aug. 26, tightening projected revenues and expenditures and preparing for insurance increases.

Town manager Caitlin Martin in July brought concerns to council that insurance costs might go up as much as 13 percent.

Such an increase would have forced the town to slash up to almost $13,000 from its budget, for insurance alone, Martin said. At a recent Public Employees Benefits Administration conference an increase of 6.8 percent was announced.

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“It’s good that overall it was less than I had anticipated … that dropped our budget numbers a lot,” Martin said. “The good thing is this means we won’t have to cut our budget as much as we feared.”

Martin said she estimated 13 percent based on how much insurance costs were going up in other states and what other municipalities were estimating.

Retirement costs are also going up about half a percent for police officers (last year’s rate was 12.45 percent and this year will be 13.01 percent), while the percentage for all other employees will increase to 10.75 percent. These two budget items amount to an additional $6,325 for insurance costs and $5,603 for retirement costs.

During the Aug. 26 budget workshop and one previously held in July, council members proposed cutting about $43,000.

“I went through the revenues to start off with and tried to get them closer to what we were actually bringing in,” Martin said.

For example, the city had received $511,000 in taxes as of July but had budgeted to receive up to $550,000. Martin said it is unlikely the town would reach that amount. In the 2011-2012 fiscal year, the City of Landrum brought in $580,000 in property taxes.

With the fear of a 13 percent increase in insurance costs and losses in tax revenue, council members briefly discussed a tax increase during workshops.

Mayor Robert Briggs said he believed talk of a mileage increase was premature.

“When it comes to taxes, I think we all feel the same way – nobody likes to pay more taxes. Our responsibility is to make sure we are doing our due diligence as city leadership to make the budget work,” Briggs said.