Henrietta officials know they are walking a tight rope

Combine one part storm water runoff with two parts of rising expenses, and a dash of declining tax revenues and you have a tight budget casserole for the city of Henrietta.
The general fund budget is balanced for 2009, but will require sticking stringently to the budget and hoping for a little luck from Mother Nature to pull it off.
City Clerk Margie Long is expecting sales tax revenues to decline by more than 15 percent over the next year. She is expecting the city to collect more than $3,000 less next year than in 2008.
Many maintenance and replacement expenses are mounting as well. City workers report that extensive repairs need to be made to city vehicles and new tires need to be purchased. Long said city workers complain that some vehicles are junk, but aldermen working on the budget say they will have to make due.
“All I hear is they’re both a piece of junk and they’re ready for the graveyard,” Long said.
Stormwater runoff problems wreaked havoc on the 2008 budget, but the city is working with the city of Richmond to help fix some of those problems in 2009 to reduce sewer flow expenses.
The city also must spend about $2,000 repairing three fire hydrants in the city that are leaking.
Long said the mandated water tower inspection and repainting may have to be financed to be completed. She said she could only find $16,000 in the budget for the project. Estimates for the project came in at about $35,000.
Aldermen working on the budget last week debated about providing clothing and boots for city workers and may vote on something next week.
Payroll also is to blame for overspending this year. Earlier this year the city fired two employees who were abusing city property and were running up overtime hours without producing much work.
Long said the city should spend more than $11,600 less in payroll in 2009 if overtime is eliminated from the payroll. Currently only police officer/public works employee Chris George is receiving overtime due to working seven days a week. The city has decided to pursue hiring a part time employee to give George two days a week off or have the days covered by other employees. Long also slashed office part time help by about 30 percent.
The street department expenses are also increasing and more money has to be shuffled over from other funds.

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