Harrison Boasts First Balanced Budget in Years

From The Harrison Daily Times:

“We are actually going to have a surplus budget for the first time,” proclaimed Chief Financial Officer Luke Feighert at Thursday night’s Harrison City Council committees meeting at City Hall. “I don’t know when the last time you guys heard the words balanced budget in Harrison.”

Feighert was talking about the projected 2021 city general operating budget. He said it will show a $12,000 surplus. “This is one of the best things we can do at this time,” he said. “Hopefully people can see we are being good stewards of their money.”

More good news is that the city’s health insurance provider recently announced it doesn’t anticipate an increase in cost to the city next year. That news came after a 10% cost increase was included in the budget for that item.

Budget and Finance Committee chairman Mitch Magness said the last time the council saw a balanced budget was 2012. The anticipated bump for insurance was estimated to cost $70,000 city-wide, he noted. Of the balanced budget, he said.

“This is probably the most important thing for me since I’ve been on the council,” Magness said. “This is a big deal.”

Magness continued to say that in reviewing the financials he felt it was a challenge to come up with a balanced budget. It never could happen the way things were structured and allotted. Some general budgets in the past have had $260,000, $270,000 deficits projected.

That news was tempered, however, when Magness voiced his concerns regarding other departments. The preliminary review of the water department shows another deficit. He said he is concerned that a water rate increase may be coming next year. Water rates are based on the consumer price index. Carroll-Boone Water Association passed along a cost increase to the city earlier this year. Feighert looked up the current CPI numbers and he reported water rates appear to be 2.7% behind the CPI currently.

Magness said he wants to prevent a big increase in water rates or dip heavily into reserves, but the public needs to be aware of the situation. But those discussions can only be held after department heads review any proposed projects.

Chief of City Operations Wade Phillips interrupted the discussion and said that an item has come up at the sewer plant that will probably change a lot of budget information he gave to Feighert.

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