Despite projected revenues going down, Brighton’s employee’s will see a 3 percent pay increase in the coming fiscal year after the town passed its $1.2 million budget Monday.
Mayor Sarah Crocker explained of the funding of the raises is possible because the town paid off a street-related loan, freeing up expenses they wanted to invest in employee salaries.
The projected decline in revenues, she said, are from new tax laws.
“We projected revenues to decline to be conservative. We have overestimated our resources in previous years. We didn’t do that this year. Thankfully we didn’t have to increase property taxes. It’s important to take care of our town employee’s because they take such good care of our town.”
Town salaries, overall, are projected to go up $28,000. The salary increase is due to hiring a new full-time town hall employee.
Raises will be distributed by department heads during the year on a merit-based system and are included in a general operating budget within each town department.
Department heads are paid a salary, plus comp time; other town employees are paid an hourly wage.
Questions were asked from the board of aldermen and Mayor Crocker regarding a few large differences in sums from previous years because there was a noticeable difference in one department’s employee bonuses.
As questions were asked regarding the full- or part-time status of the employee, town recorder Tammy McKinney retrieved a document showing the employee did receive a bonus the previous year.
McKinney said, “It was coded wrong.”
The bonus amount was listed in the employee salaries the previous year, but an error slotted it in the wrong location.
When asked if she planned to review previous years budgets to check for similar errors, Crocker said, “We have a system of checks and balances. I review the budget, Ms. McKinney reviews the budget, the board goes over the budget. We also have our annual state audit that reviews our numbers. Ronnie Neil also will review our final budget. It is extensively reviewed and gone over.”
Looking towards the future, alderman Shane Greer brought up the possibility of allocating funds, in a savings account, just for certain projects.
Vice mayor Stephanie Chapman-Washam said, “We’ve asked (department heads) to do this before.”
McKinney said savings accounts have been discussed in previous years.
“If you set money aside, ask to be sure that this is correct. For example, if the fire department needs a truck, and they allocate $50,000 for five years, once that money is designated for a fire truck it’s there, you can not spend it. It can only be used for a fire truck.”
Alderman Greer said, “That’s a good thing, right?”
“Yes,” said McKinney. “It’s just been a couple of years since we have discussed this.”
Additionally, Crocker and Greer discussed road paving projects which need to be completed.
“Road work is insanely expensive,” said Greer. “Just fixing pot holes cost way more than I imagined.”
Mayor Crocker said the latest road projects cost $13,000 in 2007. The loans were just paid off this year. She has been in talks with Public Works Director Johnathon Briles about doing town wide street evaluation soon. They are working to develop a five-year plan to fund the upcoming needed road repairs.
“We did put in the water budget money for road repairs, any time we mess them up. We hadn’t put money in there before for that. This year, there is money for that.”
Brighton will begin its fiscal year July 1.