After approving a tentative 2018-19 budget at their previous Council meeting, the July 2 work session was primarily to iron out the final budget numbers. Having passed a tentative budget, the maximum limit for the 2018-19 fiscal year was set. They could move dollar amounts around within the budget or reduce the budget amount but no increase could be made. One example of moving numbers was taking $725,000 from the Desert Hills Water Company budget and putting into the Cave Creek Water Company Budget for capital improvements. The primary one will be focused on making sure the pumps and pumping stations on the main water line from the Central Arizona Project are properly maintained and upgraded as needed.
Finance Director Robert Weddigen explained the major differences between last year’s budget and this year’s. The biggest one is for maintenance and capital improvements in the utilities. Road maintenance also shows an increase. The new budget also absolves the operational deficiencies of prior years in the enterprise fund.
Councilwoman Eileen Wright said that she had requested a breakdown of what each employee makes. What is in the budget is salary ranges. Wright said that is not what she requested. It was explained that salary ranges are included as new employees may be hired and salaries have a range based on experience, qualifications, or licensing that may be required for that position. Wright and Elrod were told they can get the specifics of each individual at the Town Hall the next day.
Public comment came from Kathryn Royer, who is running for a council seat – she asked what the public policy is for personnel information, saying she thought it should come under confidentiality rules because it’s Human Resources. Town Attorney Bill Sims said he believes names should be left off a public budget document. Councilwoman Elrod said, “This is not a private corporation. This is tax payers’ money.” Royer said, “That doesn’t mean a person’s privacy should be invaded.”
Katja Kincel asked what the total debt owed by the town is – she didn’t see it in the budget. It was explained that the budget only looked at the fiscal year that just started, but there is approximately $40 million in debt owed by the Town. She also questioned the overall increase in salaries. Mr. Weddington said most of the increase comes from plans to hire additional employees. Other factors included increased healthcare and retirement costs as well as cost of living increases.
The budget was reduced from the number approved, $21,534,589 in June, to $21,452,589 by scratching plans to repave the Town Hall parking lot. The budget passed unanimously and will now go to the next Town Council meeting for final approval.