General Fund Finances Continue to Grow
While the nation continues to slowly recover from the worst recession and financial crisis since the Great Depression, Burlington has managed to mostly weather the storm.
Burlington continues to largely avoid the financial problems that many municipalities in other states have experienced. Burlington has had a balanced budget and maintained programs and services, while at the same time avoiding a general City property tax increase. The development of the 2013 General Fund Budget maintained the general City tax rate at the same level as the prior eight years, and includes tight controls on additions to personnel and slight reductions in certain costs, offset by contractually required salary and wage increases based on the cost of living index and years of service.
Despite the lack of additional revenue, the finances of the City’s General Fund remain sound and continued to improve in FY13. The improvement in General Fund finances included a nominal increase in the Fund Balance to a total of approximately $16 million.
Limiting the rate of growth in the City’s property tax rates continues to be a priority consistent with the City Council’s goals established in 2006. For the eighth year in a row, the General City Property Tax Rate remained unchanged. The FY13 budget continued the trend to moderate growth in General Fund personnel and related expenditures. Revenues and expenditures were consistent with the budget proposed last year and adopted by the City Council in June 2012. General Fund Capital Improvements decreased 17.5% from $5.59 million in FY12 to $4.6 million in FY13.
The overall municipal, non-school tax rate for FY13 decreased slightly by $0.0127, for a total rate of $0.7153 per hundred dollars of assessed value. While the overall City/School contribution for retirement increased for FY13, a more accurate determination of the School’s share of the contribution meant a decrease in the City’s share.
Projected FY13 General Fund revenues and other sources amounted to nearly $60 million and were projected to come in slightly above expenses.
Some of the biggest challenges facing the General Fund budget continued to be the increasing cost of the City’s contribution to the Retirement Fund and the unfunded liability. The general increase in the cost of doing business such as wage increases, increases in health insurance costs, and the general inflation of purchased commodities coupled with a relatively flat increase in the Grand List (taxable real property).