Audubon Park works to reorganize budget, cut back
AUDUBON PARK, Ky. (WDRB) -- The city of Audubon Park is facing a budget shortfall. The city needs to cut tens of thousands of dollars to cover costs and break even.
A review of funds have revealed a budget shortfall in the city. Audits from 2012 show the city was charging twice what it was supposed to be for sanitation services. Some city council members say this has been occurring for years.
"Under Kentucky state law as well as our own ordinance, we're limited to only charging the cost of the waste management or sanitation expense and we've been charging double," said city council member Cary Campbell. Campbell says years ago the mayor implemented a "user fee", which doubled residents' sanitation bills. As an attorney, Campbell says this practice is illegal.
Also, road funds were being spent on everything but roads. "We've adjusted the budget for this fiscal year to take all that out of there and put it strictly to paving," said Mayor Michael Scalise.
Putting this funding in its own account--as it is supposed to be--will decrease revenue to the general fund. "Once we take that out of the budget and put it where it's supposed to go in its own separate account, you've taken out $160,000" said Campbell.
Campbell says that without the extra money from sanitation, the budget goes from around $1 million to about $700,000. Two thirds of that budget goes to police protection.
Campbell said the last thing the council wants to do is cut police, but with it being such a large chunk of the budget, they may have no other choice. "We don't want to lose those services, but we don't necessarily have a choice in this regard."
The mayor says the majority of cuts made so far have been in the police department. "We've eliminated a full-time and three part-time positions," said Scalise. However, the city website still lists a full time and part time officer opening. The mayor claims that is a mistake on the website, but he also claims they are always accepting applications.
Pensions also pose a problem for the city. The ex-police chief, for example, currently has a $600,000 ten-year pension.
The mayor says this is unsustainable so they are switching to a contribution pension plan. "We would continue paying our past obligations, but not be in that pension business anymore," said Scalise.
Campbell said instead of cutting more from police, the other option is to go to the residents and increase property taxes.
The council is expected to take action on the budget at their next meeting, Monday, August 12.
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