Tuesday, November 24, 2015

TOP STORY >> Council tables budget

Leader staff writer

It takes 10 separate budgets to operate the city of Sherwood, and all 10 went before the city council Monday night, when aldermen decided to table final passage of the budgets until next month.

“This just gives us time to review them,” said Alderman Charlie Harmon.

The city’s main budget is its general fund. Revenues and expenditures for 2016 are expected to be $20.4 million, up about $200,000 from this year’s budget and $700,000 higher than the 2014 budget.

This budget covers the mayor’s office, police, sanitation, parks and recreation and other basic city operations. All departments are seeing an increase, except sanitation and the seniors center.

The administrative department (which includes the mayor’s office) is up about $150,000 to $4.8 million. The police department is up about $20,000 to $6.9 million. Sanitation is down about $200,000 to $1.97 million.

Parks and recreation is up $50,000 to $901,000, and the budget to run the golf course is $807,000 (yet golf course fees and membership is estimated at only $400,000).

The council should ap-prove the general fund and the other nine budgets at its Dec. 21 meeting, which is a week earlier than normal. The council voted to move it because of the holidays.

The other budgets for Sherwood include the street fund, up about $30,000 to $2.5 million; the wastewater utility fund, up about $125,000 to $1.5 million; the wastewater sales tax fund, which remains steady at $378,000; and the department donation fund that is down about $4,000 to $121,000.

Another budget tabled to next month was for advertising and promotions, which contrary to a recent court ruling forcing A&P commissions to change the way they budget and give money to nonprofits, has made no changes to its 2016 budget of $970,000.

About a third of that will go to the parks and recreation department, $40,000 to economic development, $125,000 to the city’s Trail of Lights (North Little Rock recently decided to discontinue their decades-old tradition of holiday lights in Burns Park), $60,000 for capital improvements (to complete the farmers market pavilion), $34,000 for building maintenance and $30,000 for Sherwood Fest.

Also, the court automation budget is up $40,000 to $625,000; the drug fund was cut nearly in half, dropping to $13,500, and the related federal drug fund is set at $4,997. The franchise fund is up about $2,000 to $2.14 million.

In other council business:

• Alderman tabled a settlement with Comcast until December, giving the city attorney an opportunity to make sure, as Alderman Charlie Harmon said, “we are comparing apples to apples.”

• The council approved rezoning land between Creekside and Gap Creek subdivisions and Hwy. 107 from the Commercial Strip Center, office space and multi-family zoning to single-family home zoning so the subdivisions can be expanded.

• Aldermen also discussed, but took no action, on changing filing dates for municipal offices. Currently, the campaigning period works out to about five months, but goes as long as seven months, depending when the city sets the filing date.

The issue has come up because the state moved primary elections from May to March.