Jonesboro finance committee reviews tight 2015 budget - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Jonesboro finance committee reviews tight 2015 budget

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Tuesday night, city council members will look at the 2015 budget for the City of Jonesboro but it likely won't be approved for another few weeks.

Monday night at a specially called finance meeting, committee members looked at a budget that will have millions less in revenue than in years prior.

The City of Jonesboro already knows not to expect $7.5 million for 2015 that it has received over the past few years.

At the end of 2014, the half cent Public Safety Sales Tax will dissolve. Though that equals fewer taxes for residents, it means less revenue for city expenses.

"I think each one of these guys would tell you, when we did the budget last year, I think most everybody got just about everything that they wanted," Chief Financial Officer Ben Barylske said. "We had the source of revenues to match everything. This year, we don't. With that $7.5 million not being in there, 20 percent of our revenue is coming out, we had to make some cuts."

Barylske said this is something they expected with that sales tax going away.

"For the next two years, it was always pointed out that we'd have to use reserves to get by," he explained.

As the city anticipates $7.6 million in capital improvements for 2015, reserves will have to be used.

"We'll be moving that money over to plug into places that we don't have sufficient revenue coming in for those projects," Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin said.

Perrin has often stressed the importance of having reserve funds for the city.

"We don't want to take or downsize any service for any citizen of Jonesboro and that's why I want that reserve to be high enough that we can reach in and tap that reserve when we need to," Perrin said.

Though cuts were made and department heads had to prioritize budget needs, city employees will receive a two percent cost of living increase. The city was also able to maintain their health insurance coverage for employees and their families.

Mayor Perrin said he plans to call a special meeting on December 29 to approve the 2015 budget.

He said this gives aldermen and Jonesboro residents more time to look over the budget, come up with questions and come before the council.

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