VALPARAISO | Although property tax collections remained lower than was levied, not all the financial news was bad at Monday's council meeting.
Clerk-Treasurer Sharon Swihart said the city received only 87 percent of the total tax levy because of the continued economic slowdown, but borrowing between funds should be minimal to keep the city operating until the next property tax payments are received from the county in May or June.
The city has $3.73 million in its Rainy Day Fund despite having to take out $1.7 million to cover unexpected health insurance costs for employees in 2012. She said the fund should have enough to support most of the tax-supported funds with the possible exception of the parks department.
The council voted 6 to 0, with Councilman Bob Taylor absent, to approve a resolution authorizing Swihart to make the interfund transfers as needed. She said the city might have to borrow from other sources to make it through the first half of the year for the parks.
For the first time in many years, the money raised from parking fees was more than enough to cover the expenses of the parking enforcement program. A total budget of $99,500 was proposed for the salaries and benefits of the parking enforcement officers along with supplies and other expenses.
Action on that and the budget for the city's share of the county economic development income tax are expected to be voted on at the council's Jan. 28 meeting. The EDIT budget totals $2,441,967, of which $351,000 is a carryover balance from 2012. City Administrator Bill Oeding said the city budgeted $2.15 million in 2012.
"It did go up, and we hope it will continue to do that as the economy improves," Oeding said in introducing the budget to the council.
The biggest share, $550,000, is proposed for health coverage. All except $50,000 is set aside to cover any bills still outstanding from the city's self-insurance program from 2012, while the rest is to set up a safety net to help employees whose health care costs exceed their coverage under the new plan.
The city again set aside $300,000 to maintain the $1 million balance in the fund for supporting its bus services, and $175,000 is proposed to support downtown events and maintenance. Other top priorities were $300,000 for sidewalks and pathways and $147,000 for the downtown facade grant program, including $22,000 for grants already approved for projects not yet finished.