July 1 is deadline for citys 2013-2014 plan

It’s still not a done deal, but the city of Cornelius is closing in on a budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The proposed budget contains nearly $27 million “in recommended funding to provide responsive and efficient core services for Cornelius residents,” according to the city’s budget document.

The city’s general fund, which includes money for the Cornelius City Council, police and fire departments, parks, library, engineering, municipal court and community development is proposed to come in at just over $5.7 million. The rest of the budget is in “restricted funds,” where utility rules, statutes, bond covenants or constitutional limitations control the spending.

The general fund represents about 22 percent of the total city budget, yet covers more than 60 percent of the city’s employees.

Public safety has been set as one of the main priorities. Although the city of Cornelius is authorized to have 14 full-time (FTE) police officers, in the 2012-2013 budget, only 13 officers were funded. The proposed new budget recommends bringing the department up to 14 officers.

“This budget keeps our police department at full strength,” said Cornelius City Manager Rob Drake, “and it keeps our library whole.”

Other departments did not fare as well, however: The city anticipates eliminating one full-time position in the building department, as well as a part-time inspector position. Also not funded are a half-time City Hall office staff position and a half-time position with the city’s municipal court, which merged with Forest Grove’s this year.

Drake said given the realities of revenues and expenditures, he believes the budget is about as good as it can be.

“Under the circumstances, it’s a good budget,” he said. “Budgets get tougher each year because costs go up. We’re holding the line at about $27.5 million, which is roughly the same as last year.”

City Council member Dave Schamp pointed out, however, that the budget is still under review and not finalized.

“We’re not even through all the departments yet,” Schamp explained.

Council member Harley Crowder said he does not foresee any snags in the ongoing budget process.

“I don’t see any major changes (from last year’s budget). It’s just tight,” Crowder said.

“We continue to squeeze the turnip,” Schamp said.

Crowder and Schamp both praised city staff for organizing and preparing information.

“It’s pretty well laid out,” Crowder said. “We set the priorities and go.”

The city needs to have an approved budget in place by July 1.

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