To the Taxpayers of the City of Prattville
October 4, 2011
To the taxpayers of the City of Prattville:
While I’ve spoken to many of you on the phone and in my office, I want to take advantage of this space to provide an update to each of you regarding the state of the City.
Working closely with city personnel, while actively managing our service-oriented business, has put us on sounder financial footing. We still have a long way to go, but we have made great strides towards our goal of financial stability in this short time frame.
Through natural attrition and minimal layoffs, I have reduced personnel costs by $1.8 million. I intend to save more in personnel expenses with another retirement package as well as adjustments to employee benefits (i.e., workman’s compensation/healthcare costs). A goal of 56% personnel costs should be attainable by the end of this budget cycle.
In the renegotiation of contracts, the City has realized savings of over $500,000. Once our City Council has given me approval to have an assessment done of the Information Technology Department, I know that I will be able to achieve more savings through the renegotiation of maintenance contracts as well as the removal of unnecessary redundancy that has been in place for years.
We’ve spent $2.3 million less than last year in the cost of operating the city. These figures, coupled with the savings in personnel costs and no capital outlay expense, represent a total savings of $6,362,250 from the previous budget year’s (FY 2009-2010) expenses.
I have made significant headway in changing the way business is done in the City of Prattville in order to make every taxpayer dollar go as far as possible. My goal as Mayor of this great city is to eliminate waste, streamline tasks, and make departments run efficiently.
So where are we now? I’ve proposed a governmental type budget, which shows cash inflows of $41,239,311. Of that, $38,680,233 is revenue from business licensing, permits, fines, and taxes. The remaining amount includes the bridge loan, which will need to be taken out for the November 2011 bond payment. While taking out another short-term loan may seem negative, please remember that last year we had to finance the entire payment. We are reducing this debt obligation and will continue to do so as one of these bond issues will be paid off with this November 2011 payment.
This budget proposal lays out expenditures of $36,805,742, which projects cash on hand in the amount of $4,433,569. Capital outlay expenditures, which historically have been financed, will be handled differently. Cash is king…and I need to make it clear to you that none of these projects will be funded unless there is cash on hand to cover the expenditure. My budget is a roadmap to keep us on track, however nothing is set in stone meaning that just because it is included does not mean it will be spent without the money on hand. I believe I have proven to the citizens of Prattville that my mission is to do more with less and stretch our pennies farther than ever before. I pledge to you that I will not authorize any spending that is not vital to the services and programs we provide.
Enterprise funds, also known as shoeboxes, are being put into place. Through these “shoeboxes,” we can better manage a department’s productivity, finances, and equipment while at the same time keeping our fees for services at the lowest and still adequately funding said department. This type of management will allow us the ability to make long-term plans and create a reserve fund for that department.
Some budgetary facts:
- Capital Outlay, $343,742.00
- MPO Paving Projects, paid through earmarked funds, $302,078.00
- Employee Benefits (holidays) which have never been budgeted, $478,693.60
- Furloughs were included in the last budget, but not in this one.
There have been many questions about the budget process itself. My method has been to work closely with department heads to identify exactly what is needed to successfully and efficiently deliver services to you, our citizens/taxpayers. The proposal packet was constructed and presented to the Prattville City Council. It is now in the hands of the Council as they are the Legislative body of our fine city. They may make adjustments in the way of amendments when it comes before them on the agenda. It will take their votes to pass the budget and move us forward. My role now is to wait on the Council to do their job of checks and balances. I’m proud of the relationship I have with these councilmembers and feel certain that we, as a collective, are striving to make the best decisions for our city and you, our residents.
I’ve made a lot of hard decisions. In last budget cycle, I let the numbers take me where we needed to go. Some of those decisions were not politically correct or popular, however, hard times call for hard measures. Times like these don’t always create character, they reveal character. Over the course of the past 8 months, it has become clear to all involved that adult decisions require full disclosure.
A year ago, we had a wake up call here in the City of Prattville. I’ve made full disclosure my policy and have made cold, hard facts an ongoing staple on our city website (www.prattvilleal.gov), with more to come. I’ve also invited each of you to submit your ideas, suggestions, thoughts and concerns through my suggestion form on our home page. I am here to serve you and listening is a vital part of that service. My philosophy is that when we all work together, it’s our effort and our success. We didn’t get here overnight. With a little more time, tools, and talent, the City of Prattville will recover and be restored to its former financial health.
With kindest regards, I am
Bill Gillespie, Jr.