Patterson spends 28% over budget

PATTERSON, La. — Fueled largely by an unexpected early start to its water treatment plant and significant unbudgeted public safety expenses, the City of Patterson has spent 28 percent more than budgeted for the 2012-13 fiscal year that ends on June 30, according to the amended budget presented to the city council Tuesday night.

The original $6.1 million budget swelled to nearly $7.8 million in spending, which was $395,000 less than revenues collected for the fiscal year. The deficit was mitigated by a $718,000 bump up in revenue from what had been forecast.

“We are a growing city,” Mayor Rodney Grogan said. “We are trying to do as much as we can and fix as much as we can.”

The city will end the fiscal year with a $21 million fund balance.

The $3.2 million in taxes collected exceeded projected revenue by about $240,000 largely due to better than expected sales taxes, city accountant Reginald Weary said. The second largest source of revenue for the city is the just over $3 million it collected in charges for services such as garbage and utility fees. The amended budget showed an increase in those fees of about $350,000 from what was projected.

Of nine line-item expenditures, only one was under budget; capital outlay fell $8,000 to $202,000.

The original budget did not include a $5 million grant the city received to build a new water treatment plant. The city spent about $424,000 after it decided to go ahead and begin engineering work and other aspects of constructing the plant when the grant money became available.

The purchase of a new $228,500 fire truck, the addition of four police officers as well as retirement costs for police and firefighters contributed to an increase of nearly $425,000 in public safety expenditures beyond the original projection, Weary said.

As the city continues to grow and address its infrastructure needs, more city workers and staff are needed, Weary said. The city hired about 10 more employees that were not included in the original budget, he said. Unbudgeted personnel costs were a significant factor in the amended budget showing a $269,000 increase in general government expenditures. That was a 43 percent increase in unbudgeted expenses.

The city spent five times more than it budgeted on culture and recreation. The amended budget adjusted the expenditures from a projected $30,000 to $150,000. Weary said some of that increase was due to renovation at the Community Center and work on its roof.

The city spent more than it had originally budgeted for streets and highways. A 30 percent increase moved that item up from $504,000 to $660,000 in the amended budget.

Weary said that unexpected price increases in the cost of treatment of the city’s water were a reason for the $247,000 amended budget increase in the utility fund expense. The 10 percent increase in that line item raised the amended budget expenditure for it to nearly $2.76 million.

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