Williamstown budget tops $11 million

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By Jamie Baker-Nantz

Williamstown Mayor Rick Skinner believes the city is in good financial shape.
“Because of our utilities, we are able to be in good condition, but did have to make some budget  cuts,” Skinner said.
“Our goal was to have less than last year, but increasing costs, such as employee health insurance, caused it to go up,” he added.
The city council began working on the budget a couple of months ago.
The budget includes $1.465 million in the general fund, which represents about 1 percent more than last year.
This difference, according to Skinner, is due to the aquatic center, which the city and Williamstown schools are working on jointly.
The city’s budget set aside $100,000, which is earmarked for design of an aquatic center.
Skinner said all city employees received a 1.5 percent cost of living increase. They may also receive a merit raise after a performance review in December.
Williamstown’s budget differs from other cities in the county because Williamstown owns and operates its own utilities including cable TV, electric, water and sewer.
In the 2011-12 budget, revenues are as follows:
• Cable TV - $1,048, 400
• Electric - $5,463,200
• Water - $1,613,000
• Sewer - $1,462,200
The city receives revenue from several sources including its utilities and property/vehicle taxes and an insurance premium tax.
In the city’s next year’s budget, which begins on July 1, the expenditures are predicted to be:
• Cable TV - $1,206,400
• Electric - $4,453,850
• Water - $1,151,300
• Sewer - $884,600
The general fund includes services such as police, fire, streets, parks and recreation.
The police department, general government and streets make up the largest allocations of the general fund. In next year’s budget, $731,000 was allocated for police and $497,000 was allocated for streets and the Williamstown Cemetery and $409,800 was set aside for general government.
The fire department received $182,400 and parks and recreation was allocated $15,850.
The budget also includes a $1 million transfer from the electric and water funds. This money is used to offset the costs of the police and fire departments, said Skinner.
Next year’s budget included $232,400 to purchase several new vehicles including utility trucks, a bucket truck, police cruiser, snow plow and street sweeper.
“Because that money is allocated in the budget doesn’t mean that we’re going to buy it, but it means if we have they money, we could buy it,” Skinner said.
He said the last time the city purchased new vehicles was in 2007.
At the end of June, Skinner said the city should have $590,000 in reserves.