published Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Chattanooga: City trims budget to account for sales tax revenue dip

by Cliff Hightower
Audio clip

Vickie Haley

City officials said Thursday they expect to present a budget for next year that will be $3 million less than this year.

“This is an atypical year,” Chief Financial Officer Daisy Madison said.

City officials said property taxes are expected to remain stable, and the largest slice in revenues has been in state and local sales tax collected.

The city’s budget for the 2007-08 fiscal year is $170 million for the general fund, Ms. Madison said. She said the city probably will be looking at a $167 million general fund budget next year.

Ms. Madison and other city officials made the presentation during a pre-budget hearing Thursday of the City Council’s budget, finance and personnel committee. The committee is trying to prioritize the council’s spending before budget hearings begin in March and April.

Ms. Madison said after the meeting that the administration would present its final budget to the City Council in early June.

During the meeting, council members said public safety and public works would be at the top of their priority lists.

“Those are a must,” said Councilman Manny Rico. “Those are cornerstones.”

Vickie Haley, deputy finance officer for the city, explained that the council has the most control over the general fund, which is 52 percent of the budget. Most of the general fund money pays for personnel, pension funds and operating expenses, she said.

The rest of the budget is earmarked for several projects and agencies throughout the city, she said.

Right now, general fund money could go up or down, depending upon sales tax collections.

“These projections are changing,” Ms. Haley said.

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