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Tuesday night, the City Council unanimously approved a $168.4 million budget for FY13, which begins July 1. The budget includes $4.3 million in expense reductions and puts us firmly in the driver’s seat in getting city finances in shape once and for all.
I am very proud of the unity and diligence shown by the Council. Under a tight deadline, we reviewed department budgets line by line and held weeks of public discussion. City Manager Chris Hillman and his staff did an extraordinary job providing us with more data than I have ever seen during a city budget cycle. Our community can be sure this is the most thoroughly vetted budget Surprise has seen in a long time.
The process was complicated by the results of the FY11 budget audit, which became known in February. Imbalances among internal funds required the City to transfer millions from the general fund, draining our reserves to near zero. Council set a very ambitious goal for Mr. Hillman: we want those reserves, which according to our policy represents two months of expenses or roughly $13 million, replenished no later than June 20, 2014. He crafted an FY13 budget that reduces expenses, including $2.9 million in personnel costs, and is a big first step in meeting our two year goal.
Council also acted responsibly by combining and reducing our discretionary and travel funds for FY13, saving our taxpayers $25,000, a 30% reduction over last year.
It was a rigorous and exciting process which I believe served the citizens of Surprise very well. Now, I look forward to a very active summer on behalf of our residents!